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Louisiana malpractice cap may not apply to $10 million award

A doctor's mistake allegedly crippled the dominant arm of a 2-year-old boy in Louisiana 17 years ago, preventing him from pursuing his dream of joining the military. A jury recently heard the now 19-year-old's case and awarded him $10 million in damages. Ordinarily, a state-mandated cap on medical malpractice awards would automatically reduce the award amount to $500,000. Ironically, however, another alleged oversight by the physician may mean that the young man can receive the entire $10 million award amount. 

At the age of 2, the young man reportedly had a trampoline accident at a Mother's Day party that resulted in a broken arm. The young man's attorney, citing testimony from three orthopedic surgeons, states that a simple fracture such as that should have healed with no long-term complications. Allegedly, however, the substandard cast into which the treating physician placed the young man's arm cut off its blood supply. That plus the alleged manhandling of the injured appendage by the doctor reportedly resulted in permanent muscle contracture and nerve damage of the arm. 

At the time, the doctor who treated the patient was on a training rotation at Children's Hospital in New Orleans. Ordinarily, he practices in Michigan. For reasons that are still unclear, the doctor appears to have failed to register properly under Louisiana's medical malpractice act during the time he spent there. Therefore, the $500,000 cap on medical malpractice damages will not automatically apply to the award. 

However, there is no guarantee that the young man will receive the full $10 million the jury felt he deserves. The next step in the process involves submitting the judgment to a civil district court judge, who may decide to reduce the award. Additionally, the defense still has the right to file an appeal. 

Medical malpractice cases can be very frustrating, especially when a cap on damages applies. Those with questions about filing a malpractice claim may find it helpful to consult an attorney. 

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