PARALYZED MAN ASKS COURT TO DECLARE 45-YEAR-OLD CALIFORNIA LAW CAPPING HIS DAMAGES AT $250,000 OUTDATED AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The lawsuit is a prelude to a November ballot fight to overhaul the outdated Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 that has never been updated or adjusted.
March 11, 2020
ALAMEDA – Today, Yu Luo and his spouse, Wei Lin, announced a lawsuit against a host of defendants including the State of California Attorney General and State Bar of California. The declaratory relief action asks the court to declare a half-a-century old outlier law to be unconstitutional and raises novel challenges and legal arguments that have never been heard or decided.
The 45-year-old law, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA), effectively renders the extent of Mr. Luo’s quality of life damages irrelevant to the one-size-fits all cap of $250,000.
“Mr. Luo will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He and his wife will never be intimate again, and he’ll never be able to play with his kids. Mr. Luo will never be able to climb the stairs to his building, and that means he’ll have to leave his residence of 30 years,” said his lawyer Nicholas Rowley. “The oath taken by medical professionals requires that they ‘do no harm,’ but when they decimate a life they get to walk away, and patients and the public healthcare system are left to pick up the pieces.”
Mr. Luo’s action requests that courts in progressive California declare America’s most regressive medical negligence law unconstitutional. In 2019 alone, the Supreme Court in conservative Oklahoma found that caps on damages were unconstitutional. Kansas’ Supreme Court also overturned its legislative cap just as Florida, New York, Illinois and many other progressive states have.
In California, MICRA has been kept in place for 45-years by strong lobbying efforts whereby politicians are asked to sign an actual pledge to keep the law in place when they run for office and if they refuse to do so insurance company lobbyists and CMA pour money into opposing their campaigns. The phrase “bought and paid for politicians” is a brutally honest on point reality in California on this issue. Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley is a perfect example. She was asked to sign the MICRA pledge and refused, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads run by those who asked her to sign the pledge.
While medical negligence has become the third leading cause of death, the cap has never been adjusted or updated to adjust for inflation. Today, the $250,000 cap amounts to only $50,000 in 1975 dollars.
This case is the first of many that will be filed in the coming months exposing the corruption and injustice of MICRA seeking to find heroes in robes who will do that which California politicians will not.
“God forbid you have a catastrophic injury such as blindness, paralysis, a brain injury, or you get the wrong limb amputated,” said Nicholas Rowley. “Your recovery will be limited by an arbitrary one-size-fits-all number ginned up when our troops were returning home from Vietnam. Your jury will be lied to. You don’t have a full constitutional right to a jury trial in California. That isn’t justice, but that is MICRA.”
As Mr. Luo wages his battle in the courts, a coalition of consumer advocates have gathered almost 1,000,000 signatures to put the question before the voters in November. The Fairness for Injured Patients Act would put an end to 45 years of wrongdoers and their Billion Dollar Insurance Companies passing the financial burden of caring for injured patients onto private health companies and taxpayers. The Act will adjust the $250,000 compensation cap that was set in 1975 for inflation, bringing it up to $1.2 million, ensure jurors are no longer lied to and allow jurors to decide if any cap should apply in cases of catastrophic injury and death. The measure is honest and well balanced, as it has a prohibition against meritless lawsuits and requires any party filing a meritless lawsuit to pay attorneys’ fees.
Mr. Luo’s complaint, which alleges MICRA’s limitations violate the California and United States Constitutions, is available by clicking here.