JACKSON — The parties in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a legislatively imposed cap on how much juries can award in non-economic damages say they have settled the case.
Oral arguments had been set for tomorrow in Jackson before the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Supreme Court canceled the hearing and allowed the parties 90 days to finalize the settlement.
The joint motion was filed Sept. 17. Terms of the settlement were not discussed in the motion.
Circuit Judge Charles Webster in Coahoma County threw out the non-economic damages caps in 2012 in a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages in the death of a child in an apartment complex fire.
A Coahoma jury in 2011 returned a verdict for the plaintiffs that included $6 million in non-economic damages.
Mississippi has had caps for the last 10 years for personal injury and 12 years for medical malpractice.
State law that went into effect in 2004 limits awards for non-economic damages to $1 million. The cap applies to what a jury can award for such things as pain and suffering. The limits on damages were adopted by Mississippi lawmakers after years of contentious wrangling over tort changes.
Webster, in his ruling, said the Mississippi Constitution guarantees every citizen a remedy for an injury done to his lands, goods, person and reputation with that remedy to be determined by a jury. He upheld the damage award and threw out the $1 million cap.
The apartment complex owners appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Non-economic damages under Mississippi law do not include punitive damages.
There is no cap on damages for economic losses, such as how much the person could have expected to earn in his or her lifetime or for such things as continuing medical expenses.