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Following Proposition 46’s November 2014 loss, which requested, among other things, to raise the cap of nonfinancial compensation in medical malpractice cases, it appeared as if California’s malpractice cap would stay at $250,000 for the expected future. However, the California Supreme Court had consented to listen to a case disputing the legality of the state’s cap on pain and suffering rewards in medical malpractice cases.
The case, Hughes v. Pham, concerned a patient who became a paraplegic following a neurosurgeon supposedly delaying treatment after an off-road vehicle accident. The jury decided the doctor was guilty and rewarded the plaintiff $2.75 million in nonfinancial compensation. In spite of this, that reward was decreased to $250,000 following California’s 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. A California appeals court maintained that judgment, and the plaintiffs petitioned to the state’s Supreme Court. The plaintiffs claimed that cap breached the assurance of equal protection under the Constitution. They contended that the law randomly and unreasonably distinguishes the most brutally injured victims or medical malpractice for adverse treatment. The proletariat organization, Consumer Watchdog, filed an amicus brief, requesting the California Supreme Court to listen to the challenge to the thirty-nine-year-old law.