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North Dakota Judge Rules Law Limiting Malpractice Damage Limits Unconstitutional

Published on Jan 30, 2018 at 2:03 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Chenille Condon from Fort Yates, North Dakota suffered from a stroke caused by a negligent surgeon at CHI St. Alexius Health in 2012. Dr. Allen Michael Booth, a cardiac and thoracic surgeon, was performing a lymph node biopsy on Condon when he mistakenly cut a main artery that sent blood to the brain. Condon now has a limp and difficulty using her left arm. Her brain injury will likely worsen over time.

In Condon’s case against the hospital, Judge Cynthia Feland ruled the state’s limiting damages for medical malpractice cases as unconstitutional, and didn’t allow the hospital’s motion to reduce a jury’s verdict of $3.5 million owed to Condon.

The jury decided on $3.5 million for a combination of economic losses: $2 million and pain and suffering: $1.5 million. When the hospital tried to lower the pain and suffering to $500,000 because a state law sets that number as the limit.

This law is from 1995. When Judge Feland found this law to be unconstitutional because it goes against North Dakota’s rule of equal protection, and there’s no real reason to lower the damages and negatively affects the injured party.

Feland investigated the law and couldn’t find anything on how $500,000 was the chosen amount. She also noted that this doesn’t increase accessibility to help for those who need it. Condon’s lawyer, Tom Conlin, mentioned that the number allowed negligent doctors to avoid accountability.

Condon’s injury has already affected her and will continue to for the rest of her life. After her injury, she fell behind in school, but she still managed to graduate from United Tribes Technical College. In the future, she aims to get a Bachelor’s degree as a dietician.

As of now, Condon has not received her compensation. There’s a chance the hospital will try to contest the verdict in court again, but they haven’t made a decision at this time.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you have the right to seek legal options. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be able to obtain the financial compensation you need to recover from a mistake that shouldn’t have occurred. Welsh & Welsh may be able to help you get compensation.