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SMITH V. SCHULTE, 671 SO.2D 1334 (ALA. 1995), CERT. DENIED, 517 U.S. 1220,116 S.CT. 1849, 134 L.ED.2D 950 (1996)

Administrator of estate of patient who died after physician, while treating patient following automobile accident, administered drug which made all voluntary muscular activity, including breathing, impossible brought wrongful death action based on medical malpractice against physician and his professional association. After jury returned verdict awarding $4.5 million in punitive damages, the Mobile Circuit Court, No. CV-90-001334, Douglas 1. Johnstone, J., determined that award was not excessive, but reduced verdict to $1 million, with consumer price index adjustments, pursuant to statutory cap on damages in actions against health care providers. Both parties appealed, and the Supreme Court held that: (1) statutory cap impermissibly limits recovery in certain wrongful death actions and violates State Constitution; (2) statute violates right to trial by jury in wrongful death action based on medical malpractice guaranteed by State Constitution; and (3) award of $4.5 million in punitive damages was excessive and would be remitted to $2.5 million. Reversed in part and affirmed conditionally in part, and application for rehearing overruled.
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