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Malpractice Victims Protest Calif.’s Cap On Noneconomic Damages At Capitol

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Families impacted by medical negligence gathered at the State Capitol Thursday, pushing for a measure to lift California’s financial cap for malpractice victims.

The cap has been in place for nearly four decades, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1975.

It limits victims’ compensation for pain, suffering and loss of quality of life at $250,000.

“Just caring for them alone is expensive. She has to have 24-hour care,” said Ryan Jeffers.

He says his daughter Malyia’s life will be the same after a Sacramento doctor didn’t make time to see Malyia three years ago, until it was too late.

She had an infection spread through her body, forcing doctors to amputate her lower legs and hands.

“I didn’t ask for this. No one asked for their daughter to not only lose their life but lose everything she was born with,” said Jeffers.

To make matters worse, California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act says Malyia’s family can only get up to $250,000 for their little girl’s pain and suffering.

“I’m not in no position to fork out millions of dollars for her care for the rest of her life. I wish I could,” said Jeffers.

Now families like the Jeffers are supporting a ballot to change the current law, which caps the money victims of medical negligence can receive.

But some argue the 38-year-old law prevents frivolous lawsuits and from financially crippling doctors’ offices.

“Before we had MICRA, we had an increase in meritless lawsuits. We had medical providers, doctors, obstetricians who were having to close their doors,” Planned Parenthood Director Raquel Simental said.

But victims and their families say $250,000 doesn’t make up for a lost life or one changed forever and the sacrifices made.

“I knew there was obviously nothing I could do to bring her arms and legs back. There’s nothing I can do but I can try to make sure that if it happened to someone else, they wouldn’t have to suffer like I did,” said Jeffers.

Supporters of the ballot initiative want the amount for noneconomic damages to be up to a jury rather than the legislature.

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