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Recently, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill that alters statutory non-economic damage caps.  Almost two years ago, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.  However, the Court’s opinion clearly warned that the cap had to be increased by the legislature to remain constitutionally adequate in the future.  To preserve the cap, Senate Bill 311 was introduced in March of this year.  SB 311 passed the House and Senate in April, and was subsequently presented to Governor Brownback on April 11, 2014.  The bill was signed on April 17, 2014, and took effect on July 1, 2014.

SB 311 gradually increases the cap on non-economic damages to $350,000 over an eight-year span. See K.S.A. § 60-19a02(1).  The bill amends the limits applied to non-economic damages in personal injury actions in the follow time table:

  • $250,000 cap for causes of action accruing from July 1, 1988 to July 1, 2014;
  • $300,000 cap for causes of action accruing from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2018;
  • $325,000 cap for causes of action accruing from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2022;
  • $350,000 cap for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2022.

SB 311 provides that the “verdict shall be itemized by the trier of fact to reflect the amount awarded for noneconomic loss.”  K.S.A. § 60-19a02(1)(c).  Furthermore, the court shall not instruct the jury on the non-economic damages cap.  K.S.A. § 60-19a02(1)(d).  Instead, if the verdict results in an award exceeding the limits of the damage caps in SB 311, the court will enter a judgment in the amounts outlined in the above time table. Id. This entry of judgment occurs after consideration of comparative negligence.  Thus, the cap is applied by the Judge, after allocation of fault.

For more information, contact John Bordeau at 913-234-6115.

John Bordeau has represented architects, engineers, attorneys, physicians and financial professionals in malpractice claims in Kansas and Missouri. He has 17 years of trial and litigation experience handling complex tort litigation in the areas of professional negligence, construction defect claims, and product liability. His construction practice includes representation of owners, contractors and insurers. John’s product practice includes defense of medical and industrial product manufacturers in death and injury cases. He has litigated and mediated hundreds of matters, always focusing on resolving claims as early as possible, with the least possible expense to his clients. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Kansas Law School and is currently practicing at the law firm of Sanders Warren & Russell LLP.