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Elite Medical Experts: $9.27M Verdict Shatters California's $250K Medical Malpractice Cap
[October 15, 2020]

Elite Medical Experts: $9.27M Verdict Shatters California's $250K Medical Malpractice Cap

Elite Medical Experts was pivotal in a $9.27 million California medical malpractice case that exceeded the state's $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages. The landmark verdict has broad implications in California and other states with caps on noneconomic damages. Attorney David Ricks consulted with Elite to secure the expert witness who testified about critical facts in this groundbreaking case.

In 2014, Keith Burchell underwent what was supposed to be a simple, outpatient procedure to remove a small scrotal mass. His surgeon instead performed a substantially more invasive procedure without consulting the patient or his medical proxy. As a result of the unauthorized procedure, Burchell suffered permanent serious side effects. He sued multiple parties in a hybrid claim alleging professional negligence and medical battery. A jury awarded $4 million in past noneconomic damages and $5.25 million in future noneconomic damages. Despite California's statutory cap, the California Court of Appeal upheld the award for damages (see, Keith Burchell v. Faculty Physicians & Surgeons; Fourth District, Division Two; Case No. CIVDS1503214).

"… I knew it was critically important for us to show the jury and the judge that this claim went well outside of the medical negligence claim and was, in fact, a medical battery," said David Ricks of David H. Ricks & Associates, attorney for the plaintiff-appellant.

The California Supreme Court ruled that the limitation on noneconomic damages does not apply to an "intentional tort" in which a physician obtains the patient's consent to perform one type of treatment, but performs a substantially different treatment for which the plaintiff never consented. Given the ramifications of the appellate decision, the next stop may be the state's Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Burchell ruling gives credence to the tort of medical battery - and perhaps other non-negligence torts - as a viable claim for exceeding non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice cases. Attorneys from both sides of the bar will be watching closely.

About Elite Medical Experts: Elite partners with legal teams across the U.S. to develop strategic insight on matters at the intersection of Medicine & Law. Elite also aligns nationally recognized Professors of Medicine and Surgery as subject matter consultants and expert witnesses. Elite's experts have been instrumental on over 8000 engagements totaling nearly $3 billion at risk.

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