Colorado Supreme Court to Reexamine $9.2 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict Due to Insurance Payment Controversy

DENVER, Colorado — The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold a judge’s decision to override a state law and award a man the full $9.2 million that a jury awarded him in a medical malpractice case. The case involves a severely botched surgery that left the plaintiff with major injuries and significant medical expenses.

The plaintiff, Susan Ann Scholle, is appealing on behalf of her late husband who filed the lawsuit against Sky Ridge Medical Center and the doctors who operated on him. The jury awarded $9.2 million, but the defendants argued that the amount should be reduced to around $1 million due to provisions in state law that allegedly prevent patients from being owed the amount already paid by their insurance company.

During oral arguments, the lawyer for Scholle argued that state law and previous Supreme Court decisions are clear in stating that insurance payments should not be subtracted from a jury’s award. Justices Gabriel and Samour Jr. criticized the defendants’ argument, pointing out that the plaintiff had been paying for insurance premiums and should not be punished for it.

Scholle’s lawyers also argued that if the costs of her husband’s medical care were subtracted, the hospital would actually profit from its negligence. However, the defendants, supported by the Colorado Medical Society and the American Medical Association, contended that exceeding the damages cap and overcompensating the plaintiff for past medical expenses would go against the intent of the Health Care Availability Act, which was enacted to lower healthcare costs for providers.

The Court of Appeals previously upheld the judge’s decision, but questioned the validity of one of the judge’s reasons for overriding the damages cap. They ordered a new judge to reevaluate the case and determine whether the full amount awarded by the jury was fair.

The Colorado Supreme Court is now tasked with determining whether the judge’s decision was justified and whether the damages cap should be upheld or overridden. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for medical malpractice lawsuits in the state.