Physicians Increasingly Face “Hybrid” Medical Liability Claims

 Wednesday, October 9, 2019


California physicians are increasingly facing “hybrid” lawsuits alleging professional negligence as well as medical battery from plaintiffs who want to avoid the state’s long-standing $250,000 limit on what juries can award for noneconomic damages in medical liability cases.

A jury recently awarded $22,246 in economic damages and $9.25 million in past and future noneconomic damages to a plaintiff who tried this approach, with the court refusing to apply limits set in California’s Medical Injury Tort Compensation Reform Act (MICRA).

The physician defendant is appealing the ruling and the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies joined with the California Medical Association and two other groups to file an amicus brief urging the appellate court to apply the law’s $250,000 cap.

That should be done because the plaintiff’s claims were based on the same set of facts for a single act by a single surgeon—facts that wholly fit within MICRA’s “professional negligence” definition.