Camargo v. John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Inc. (Aug. 20, 2014, No. G049518) 2014 WL 4097607 [nonpublished opinion]

A jury found that in the care of a patient who was suffering from flesh-eating bacteria and later died, JFK Memorial Hospital was negligent, that a JFK nurse had committed “willful misconduct,” and that JFK was responsible for 70% of the resulting harm. The jury awarded the patient’s heirs $4.7 million, including $4.3 million in noneconomic damages. Based on the jury’s willful misconduct finding, the trial court refused to limit the noneconomic damage award against JFK to $250,000 as required by statute in medical malpractice cases or to apportion only 70% of noneconomic damages to JFK as required by the state Constitution in all negligence cases. The Court of Appeal reversed, adopting GMSR’s contention that the damages limits and apportionment of fault rules apply despite the JFK nurse’s so-called “willful misconduct.” As the trial judge had defined “willful misconduct” for the jury, it is an aggravated form of negligence, but still negligence. With credit for other defendants’ settlements, JFK will be responsible for only a small fraction of the damages awarded by the jury.

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