Supreme Court declines to hear case on noneconomic damages cap

Settlement means constitutionality of cap still an unresolved issue

The constitutionality of Mississippi's controversial cap on noneconomic damages remains unresolved after the parties in a wrongful death lawsuit reached a settlement. Because of the settlement, the Mississippi Supreme Court will no longer hear the case as it had been scheduled to in September. Mississippi has had a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages for the past ten years after the contentious legislation was passed by state lawmakers.

Wrongful death lawsuit

The Coahoma County case was launched by the family of a child who was killed in an apartment fire. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the apartment complex's owners and a jury awarded the family $6 million in noneconomic damages in 2011 despite the state having a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages.

In 2012, a Circuit Judge upheld the jury's verdict by throwing out Mississippi's noneconomic damages cap. The family had argued that the cap was a violation of the state constitution. That constitution, according to the family, guarantees that people will have remedy, as determined by a jury, for damage done to their property, body, reputation, and goods. The apartment owners appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Case settled

The question of the cap's constitutionality could have been decided by the Supreme Court, thus clearing up much confusion and uncertainty for people throughout the state. However, in September both parties told the court that they had reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum. As such, the court will no longer hear the case.

Mississippi's cap on noneconomic damages applies to such things as pain and suffering, although not to punitive damages, and was passed by lawmakers ten years ago. The above case is not the first time the cap has been an issue before the courts. In early 2013, according to Business Insurance, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the cap in a case involving a woman who was struck and injured by a car. However, since that case depended on a number of technicalities that were not present in the current case, the cap's constitutionality remained an unresolved issue.

Personal injury and wrongful death

While the above case unfortunately leaves the noneconomic caps in place until their constitutionality is finally decided, it should serve as a reminder to anyone who has been injured due to the negligence of another party that legal and financial recourse may be available to them. The emotional and physical pain and suffering is often difficult enough to endure following an injury or wrongful death, but that suffering can become even worse when families are then forced to contend with high medical expenses and lost income.

Anybody who has suffered an injury or whose loved one was killed due to the possible negligence of another person should contact a personal injury attorney right away. An experienced attorney can help people understand what their legal options are and what measures can be taken following an accident.