To the editor:
Earlier this month, a Wichita jury awarded a sound verdict to a 23-year-old man, Kyle Jim, disabled for life by bad medical care. The jury found his doctor and hospital failed to treat Jim when he was 11 for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The disease, deadly if untreated, could have been cured with antibiotics which Jim didn't get. Now, he can no longer speak or hear, is brain-damaged, almost blind, and had several fingers and both legs amputated.
Jim's attorneys had to fight long and hard for justice for him. The jury heard the facts and awarded him $9.8 million, including $5.8 million for his disabilities and suffering. But, in Kansas, the law limits a jury's award. The judge must cut Jim's "noneconomic" damages by $5.5 million, down to $250,000.
That is because 20 years ago, Kansans passed a law to protect corporations and the insurance industry at the expense of people like Kyle Jim. We capped damages for disability, pain and suffering at $250,000. No matter what the jury decides.
Any fair-minded person can see that Jim's case is a sad example of the folly of that law. When negligence kills a person, noneconomic damages are also capped at $250,000. It is time for the Kansas Legislature to eliminate the damage caps, and let Kansas juries do their jobs. (If they get it wrong, a defendant can appeal). Robbing Mr. Jim of his jury verdict is not a crime but it sure seems like one.