Estate of Michelle Evette McCall v. United States, No. 09-16375 (11th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs sued defendant under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-80, alleging that the negligence of defendant's employees caused the death of Michelle Evette McCall. The central issue presented on appeal was whether Florida's cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages violated the Florida or United States Constitutions. Plaintiffs also appealed the district court's application of that statutory cap. The court held that the district court did not err in applying the cap where the court's independent review of the trial record confirmed that no evidence at trial singled out a specific nonpractitioner for negligent conduct. The court also held that Florida's statutory cap passed muster under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States, as well as the Takings Clause of Article X, 6(a) of the Florida Constitution, where the legislature identified a legitimate government purpose in passing the statutory cap, namely to reduce the cost of medical malpractice premiums and healthcare, and Florida's choice of a per incident cap on noneconomic damages was rationally related to that end and where plaintiffs were not deprived of a vested right. The court further held that, because no Florida Supreme Court decisions provided controlling guidance to resolve plaintiffs' other challenges to the cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages under the state's constitution, the court granted, in part, plaintiffs' motion to certify questions to the Florida Supreme Court.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 1, 2014.