The Florida Supreme Court yesterday responded "yes" to this question certified to it from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh CIrcuit:
DOES THE STATUTORY CAP ON WRONGFUL DEATH NONECONOMIC DAMAGES, FLA. STAT. § 766.118, VIOLATE THE RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER ARTICLE I, SECTION 2 OF THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION?
The Florida Supreme Court applied rational-basis scrutiny: the least intense type of equal-protection scrutiny and the type most deferential (at least in theory) to legislative judgments. Here's how the court summed up why it struck down the statutory cap:
The [$1 million] statutory cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages fails because it imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gives rise to multiple claimants. In such circumstances, medical malpractice claimants do not receive the same rights to full compensation because of arbitrarily diminished compensation for legally cognizable claims. Further, the statutory cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages does not bear a rational relationship to the stated purpose that the cap is purported to address, the alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida.