In 2005 the Georgia General Assembly (General Assembly) passed a controversial tort reform bill in an effort to reduce the cost of medical liability insurance for health care providers. In this bill, the legislature put a cap of $350,000 on noneconomic damages (pain and suffering) for medical malpractice cases. On March 22, 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court in Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, RC. v. Nestlehutt held these caps unconstitutional on grounds that they violate the state constitutional right to jury trial. By ruling on these grounds, the court was able to avoid weighing in on the competing interests of the medical industry and medical malpractice plaintiffs, which would have required an equal protection or due process analysis. The court, therefore, circumvented the politics of tort reform by way of a right to jury trial analysis.
Terry, Jennifer W.
"Caps Off to Juries: Noneconomic Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases Ruled Unconstitutional,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 62:
4, Article 14.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol62/iss4/14