Pulliam v. Coastal Emergency Services of Richmond, Inc.: Reconsidering the Standard of Review and Constitutionality of Virginia's Medical Malpractice Cap
32 Pages Posted: 14 May 2016
Date Written: Spring 2000
In Pulliam v. Coastal Emergency Services of Richmond, Inc., the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the federal and state constitutionality of Virginia's statutory medical malpractice cap for the third time. While this Note follows much scholarly analysis on the constitutional debate over medical malpractice caps, this Note focuses on the state constitutional challenges that may provide the most viable arguments for striking down medical malpractice caps as invalid tort reform in Virginia. Although Pulliam should come as no surprise given Virginia's conservative rulings upholding the constitutionality of its medical malpractice cap, the Virginia Supreme Court made two egregious errors in its most recent constitutional analysis. First, the court incorrectly applied the standard of review with respect to the Commonwealth's prohibition against special legislation. Second, the court applied the wrong standard of review with respect to challenges against state equal protection guarantees. Consequently, Virginia's medical malpractice cap continues to violate the Commonwealth's constitution, leaving those most severely injured by medical malpractice negligence unable to pursue full compensation for their injuries – a legal right that Virginia affords any other tort plaintiff.
Keywords: Virginia, tort reform, medical malpractice cap, constitutionality, standard of review, malpractice insurance
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