Paulson &Nace Challenges West Virginia Medical Negligence Cap

Mar 08, 2011, 13:53 ET from Paulson &Nace, PLLC

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Paulson &Nace attorneys Barry J. Nace and Christopher T. Nace appeared today before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to challenge the state's cap on non-economic damages in medical negligence cases.  The constitutional challenge stems from a verdict returned by a Berkeley County, West Virginia jury in 2008.

Barry and Christopher Nace, along with D. Michael Burke of Burke, Schultz, Harman &Jenkinson, represented James and Debbie MacDonald in a lawsuit against City Hospital and an emergency room physician.  Mr. MacDonald, a recently retired teacher after 34 years, suffered permanent injuries when the hospital pharmacy and physician failed to identify a toxic drug combination that led to rhabdomyolysis resulting in permanent damage to his muscles.

After hearing evidence for seven days, the jury returned a verdict of $1.5 million in non-economic damages.  The jury awarded Mr. MacDonald $1 million for past and future pain and suffering and his wife $500,000.  Despite the verdict returned by the six members of the community, the trial judge applied the statutory cap and reduced the award to $500,000, cutting Mr. MacDonald's award in half and leaving no recovery for Mrs. MacDonald.  Shortly after, Paulson &Nace retained constitutional attorney Robert S. Peck of the Center for Constitutional Litigation to argue the matter before the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Barry J. Nace explained, "A jury of James and Debbie's peers heard the evidence, deliberated for several hours and returned a reasonable verdict consistent with the evidence.  The MacDonalds just want the jury's verdict to stand and not be subjected to a one-size fits all cap passed by politicians.  They believe strongly that a jury of their peers -- not politicians -- are better situated to value their case.  The Constitution of the State of West Virginia protects the right to trial by jury.  That's what this case is all about."  

The appeal was argued at the West Virginia University College of Law.

About Paulson &Nace, PLLC

Founded in 1979, the law firm of Paulson &Nace, PLLC ( specializes in promoting the rights of seriously injured persons and their families. The firm works exclusively in the areas of medical malpractice and personal injury, and has produced nearly $250 million for clients, including the top two personal injury verdicts in Washington D.C. history.


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