by William W. Large
Washington Legal Foundation
June 19, 2014
The Florida Supreme Court has found that the state’s limit on noneconomic damages in medical negligence actions, as applied in wrongful death cases involving multiple claimants, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution because it lacked a “rational basis.” This outcome should trouble anyone who respects the democratic process, regardless of his or her views on medical malpractice reform. Judicial nullification is not unheard of, particularly with respect to civil justice reform. Under the Equal Protection Clause, challenged laws are subject to “rational basis review,” whereby courts must uphold laws if they have any conceivable legitimate government purpose to serve. That is not what the Court did in this instance. Instead, the Florida Supreme Court has improperly suggested that courts can strike down a duly-enacted statute if a majority of the court’s members disagree with the original need for a law or believes that a law is no longer necessary.

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