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Massachusetts’ highest court overturned a $4.1 million malpractice verdict against a Boston hospital Tuesday, saying the award must be capped at $20,000 because the hospital is a charitable organization. The Supreme Judicial Court said the so-called charity cap, mandated by state law, was applicable to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the case of Dylan Keene, who suffered severe brain damage shortly after his birth in 1986. A lower court had ruled that lifting the cap was a way to sanction the hospital for losing records identifying the doctors who cared for Dylan. However, the high court said the cap could be waived only if the charitable organization agrees. The case was closely watched by lawyers suing the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese in hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The damages being sought in those cases are well above the charitable cap. Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer who represents more than 200 alleged victims in the church scandal, said the ruling does not give the victims guidance on whether the charitable cap will affect their cases. “We’re saying that the archdiocese is a charitable entity, whose work includes ministering to the faithful and parishioners, and that its charitable purpose in no way encompasses exposing those parishioners and its children to known child molesters,” MacLeish said. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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