Much has been made by the "tort reform" folks of placing caps on non-economic damages as a way of limiting damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. But as this story from yesterday's New York Times shows, that may not be the case. A recent study found that awards in states with caps were not significantly different from those with caps. Not surprisingly, the main factors influencing the size of jury verdicts are "the severity of injury, whether the judge in the case was elected in a partisan race and whether the state requires medical experts to screen suits." Some question the methodology of the study, but it shows that a) trial lawyers are a crafty bunch and b) a jury's sense of justice can work within whatever legal constraints you try and put on it.