Despite their Promise to Uphold Missouri’s Constitution, Legislature Again Tries To Limit Right to Jury Trial

The Missouri Supreme Court recently held that laws attempting to put “‘caps” on how much a jury can award in medical malpractice cases violates the Missouri Constitution’s provisions. Specifically, the Missouri Constitution says that the right to a jury trial shall remain “inviolate.” The Supreme Court held that it’s a sham to say that you have a right to a jury trial if the judge then rewrites the jury’s decision and disregards it completely.

Despite the clear wording of the Constitution and their sworn promises to uphold and defend the Constitution, Missouri’s legislature is yet again attempting to do an end run around the right to a jury trial by passing a new law which is very similar to the old one. They’re attempting to get around this provision by eliminating Missouri’s citizens’ common-law rights as in existence before the Constitution, and creating a “new,” and clearly inferior, right to file medical malpractice claims if you’re injured by a physician’s carelessness.

It’s incredibly ironic that the Republican-led legislature, most of whom are big fans of the Tea Party and its professed adherence to strict construction of the Constitution, have no problem tearing up the Constitution when it comes to provisions that benefit Missouri citizens generally but are directly against the interests of their large campaign contributors (such as doctors, hospitals and insurance companies). It’s been well proven that making doctors accountable to patients when they make mistakes makes doctors more careful, cuts down on medical errors and clearly improves our healthcare system. The myth put forth by doctors, hospitals and insurance companies in every state in the country that holding doctors accountable leads to “defensive medicine” and leads doctors to “leave our state”has been exposed as completely false. See these links:

Article on Five Myths About Medical Negligence

For a good explanation of how the insurance companies’ villainizing plaintiff’s lawyers has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with stock prices and insurance companies returns on their investments, see this link:

The Tort Reform Myth

I strongly urge all Missouri citizens to call their legislators immediately to tell them that they won’t stand for these attempts to take away their Constitutional rights!! Nobody expects to get hurt by a healthcare provider’s mistakes, but it happens every single day. And simply assuming it’s never going to happen to you is a very dangerous tact. You may need those rights someday, and if you do nothing now, they might not be there when you need them.

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