• Posts by John Paul Thyken

    John P. Thyken is a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP. His practice includes a wide range of areas, including mass tort, consumer fraud, wrongful death, and other complex litigation. Presently, John is part of the team ...

Avoiding MICRA’s $250K Non-Economic Damages Cap

The California legislature enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) in 1975 with the intent of curbing a perceived increase in medical malpractice insurance premiums and health care costs. MICRA sought to achieve this by erecting a number of obstacles for plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions, the most well-known being a $250K cap on plaintiffs’ non-economic damages.

More than forty years later, health care costs have not slowed but innumerable victims of medical negligence have been denied just compensation. Though MICRA has been applied broadly to various acts and omissions only minimally related to the rendering of professional medical services, there are some fact patterns and theories of liability which may circumvent MICRA’s limitations and permit the recovery of full compensatory damages.

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Originally heralded as one of the “Top 10 Residential Buildings in the World” and “An Address Like No Other,” San Francisco’s 58-story Millennium Tower obtained unanticipated notoriety when it was finally disclosed to the public and residents that the building has sunk 16 inches and is leaning 2 inches at its base. A wave of finger pointing ensued between the building developers and owners of the neighboring Transbay Terminal project, with dueling teams of experts blaming excessive dewatering, failure to drill down to bedrock, or other factors, for the unexpected settlement.  Whatever its cause, however, it is clear that the building’s developers knew the building was sinking yet did not disclose this vital information when selling units to unsuspecting homeowners.

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