By Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
10:53 PM CDT, October 5, 2012
The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld a state law imposing a $250,000 cap on damages that can be awarded for pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits.
"Instead of protecting Kansans, it places Kansans at risk," Wichita attorney Larry Wall says.
Wall represents a couple from Great Bend who say they were overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty furnace in their apartment. Wall says he had been holding off on filing a lawsuit against the landlord hoping the Supreme Court would do what he considers constitutional, and overturn the cap.
"What will happen is, the bad doctors, the bad drivers, the bad landlords will be encouraged to move to Kansas, because they're going to have low damage awards for their negligence," Wall says.
The court ruled Friday against Eudora resident Amy Miller, who challenged the 1988 law imposing the cap on non-economic damages. Miller sued her doctor for removing the wrong ovary from her during surgery in 2002.
Business and medical groups had urged the court to uphold the law, saying it keeps insurance premiums affordable. Miller's attorneys had argued that the cap violated the Kansas Constitution's guarantees of a right to trial by jury.
The court said setting limits is a policy issue for the Legislature to settle. A Douglas County jury awarded Miller nearly $760,000 in damages in 2006, but the award was reduced.
*Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.