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The Supreme Court of Illinois has twice held that caps on damages are unconstitutional. In 1976, the court held in Wright v. Central DuPage Hospital Association that a cap on damages in medical malpractice cases constitutes special legislation in violation of the 1970 Illinois Constitution. Twenty-one years later, in Best v. Taylor Machine Works, the court held that a cap on non-economic damages in bodily injury and death cases is special legislation as well as a violation of the separation of powers clause. Despite these clear precedents, last year Governor Rod Blagojevich capitulated to public pressure manipulated by the powerful insurance and medical industries and signed into law Public Act 94-677, which limits noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 against physicians and $1,000,000 against hospitals. But if caps are unconstitutional, why were they enacted yet again? Because the medical liability insurance industry and medical trade associations have conspired in a campaign of misinformation to deceive the public, physicians and lawmakers into believing that there is a medical malpractice crisis caused by non-economic damage awards rather than insurance industry mismanagement and a temporary decline in investments. This article will examine the major claims made by the insurance and medical lobbies to manipulate public and legislative support for caps and show that they are misleading or simply false. It also demonstrates that non-economic damage awards are not fueling the rapid rise in malpractice insurance rates, caps do not reduce physicians' premiums, and caps unconscionably place the burden of loss on a small number of innocent victims. Illinois' most recent cap legislation is a windfall for the profiteering insurance industry subsidized by seriously injured medical malpractice victims who are left with profound disabilities and shattered lives.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Frank A. Perrecone and Lisa Fabiano, The Fleecing of Seriously Injured Medical Malpractice Victims in Illinois, 26 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 527 (2006).

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