This post serves as a concluding piece on the Oliver Medical Malpractice case reviewed in our previous two entries:
The higher burden in a medical malpractice case requires that the state show that the discrimination furthers a legitimate governmental interest. The Taylors argued that by including nurses in the categories of medical practitioners who have limited liability, those in Taylor’s shoes have inadequate remedy. The state argued that it was creating this distinction for the overall purpose of protecting individuals who are in situations just like Taylor.
Ultimately, the state argued that by creating the liability limit for nurses in the act, it had in mind the future consequences of unlimited liability. They argued that by creating the cap the amount of liability is reduced, which means that it costs less overall for a nurse to practice within the state of Louisiana. The state goes on to argue that this reduction in cost insures that there will be a sufficient number of nurse and medical practitioners who practice within Louisiana. This, they argue, ensures people like Taylor that someone will be there to help them. Moreover, the state argues that a lower liability limit means that nurses like nurse Duhon will have at least enough money to cover the costs up to the cap and that with unlimited liability, it would not be guaranteed that nurses would have the sufficient amount of resources to compensate victims of malpractice.
The court did not agree with this. The court noted that its first objective was to see if the clause which includes nurses can be taken out of the act without destroying the acts underlying purpose. If this can be done, the court must save the act by taking that part out. In this case, the court held that removing nurses from the protection of the act will not have such an effect. The court went on to state that nurses like nurse Duhon are allowed to practice in Louisiana without sufficient training and experience required to be a doctor. As a result, nurses are able to give medical advice without jumping through the hoops that doctors have to. The court stated that individuals like Taylor get advice without realizing that they may be getting wrong advice. Further, he court did not see that there was any legitimate governmental interest which could justify leaving Taylor in the state she is in by nurses who give wrong advice. The court argued that those in Taylor’s situation would likely be more than happy to take the chance at suing for malpractice without the liability limit rather than be assured that they will get at least $500,000 but no more. In its conclusion, the court ruled the limitation as it applied to nurses to be unconstitutional.
Medical malpractice cases are inherently complicated and require exceptional legal assistance in order to get the financial judgment you deserve. If you believe you have suffered due to the actions of a medical professional, contact an attorney immediately to preserve your legal rights.