Wisconsin Supreme Court rules malpractice cap unconstitutional

October 1, 2005

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in July that the state's cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in July that the state's cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional. The ruling in the case of Ferdon v. Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund came as a surprise to medical groups.

"This decision is incredulous," said Wisconsin resident and ACOG President-Elect Douglas W. Laube, MD, in a press release. "While the rest of the country is seeking to fix what is broken with our tort system through the enactment of caps, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has thrown them out. This decision will destroy a health-care system that has proven to be effective for the people of Wisconsin."

Since the cap was enacted in 1995, Wisconsin's liability insurance premiums have remained relatively stable. In 2004, the state's premiums averaged about $23,000 annually, compared with $230,000 in parts of neighboring Illinois.