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In the 1997 Illinois Supreme Court decision of Best v. Taylor Machine Works, the court held that caps on non-compensatory damages violated the Illinois Constitution. However, in light of the current health care insurance crisis, the court may have to reconsider this issue. This article re-crafts the decision, ultimately arguing that caps are constitutional. The intention of the article is three-fold. First, the article attempts to bring greater attention to a growing problem that requires immediate addressing, while advocating a direct and administratively simple solution. Second, the article seeks to provide a historical overview of caps on non-compensatory damages relating to personal injury and specifically, medical malpractice. Finally, the article provides the court with a legal framework for re-writing its decision to support a cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cause of actions. Part I of this article adumbrates the current state of the medical malpractice insurance crisis in Illinois and reasons why the cap is the most effective solution to control rising malpractice premiums, encouraging medical providers to practice in Illinois. Part I also focuses on the history of non-compensatory caps in Illinois, providing some insight into the 1976 decision of Wright v. Central Du Page Hospital Association, and detailing the facts of Best v. Taylor. Part I focuses on the court's reasoning in Best v. Taylor and sets forth a compelling argument for reversal. It not only addresses the court's arguments pertaining to the special legislation clause and the separation of powers clause, but it rebuts other arguments put forward by opponents of caps, pertaining to the right to a jury, equal protection, due process, and the right to a certain remedy under the Illinois Constitution. Part III concludes that the Illinois Supreme Court decision of Best v. Taylor was poorly reasoned and should be overturned, given that a cap on non-compensatory damages in medical malpractice actions can be supported by Illinois law and policy.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Carolyn Victoria J. Lees, The Inevitable Reevaluation of Best v. Taylor in Light of Illinois' Health Care Crisis, 25 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 217 (2005).

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