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Court Discusses Grounds for Modifying a Jury’s Damages Award in a Medical Malpractice Case in New York

Typically, a plaintiff pursuing claims for medical malpractice will ask a jury to assess both liability and what damages should be awarded to the plaintiff. While determining what constitutes appropriate compensation for pain and suffering is within the purview of the jury, if a jury issues a damages award that does not align with the law or evidence, the court may modify the award. The grounds for modifying damages awarded by a jury were discussed in a recent surgical malpractice case in New York in which the defendant filed a motion to reduce the damages the jury awarded the plaintiff. If you suffered an injury due to a negligently performed surgery, you may be able to recover damages for your harm and should speak to a diligent Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant perforated the plaintiff’s small intestine while performing an endoscopy on the plaintiff, after which the plaintiff required a surgical procedure to repair the perforation. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. At trial, the plaintiff’s expert testified that the plaintiff had a permanent scar on her abdomen that was almost eight inches long, and had an increased risk of developing hernias, bacterial overgrowth in her abdomen, and bowel obstructions due to the surgery.

Allegedly, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding the plaintiff $1,500,000 for past pain and suffering and $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The defendant filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict as excessive unless the plaintiff agreed to stipulate to lower damages. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Grounds for Modifying a Jury’s Damages Award

In New York, a jury’s findings with respect to damages for past and future pain and suffering will not be set aside unless the damages awarded materially deviate from what constitutes reasonable compensation. Notably, a court is not bound by damages awarded by juries in prior cases that involved similar injuries, but such awards may serve as a guide to enlighten a court in determining whether a verdict should be considered reasonable. The court should also give consideration to other factors, though, such as the extent and nature of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Here, after considering the extent and nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, the appellate court found that the damages awarded to the plaintiff for past pain and suffering, as reduced by the trial court, did not materially deviate from what would be considered reasonable compensation. The court found, however, that the damages awarded to the plaintiff with regard to damages for future pain and suffering did deviate from what is considered reasonable compensation. Thus, the court modified the order to direct a new trial as to those damages unless the plaintiff stipulated to a reduced verdict.

Speak to a Seasoned Syracuse Attorney

If you were injured during a negligently performed surgical procedure, you should speak to an attorney about whether you may be able to pursue claims against the doctor that performed the procedure. The seasoned Syracuse surgical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at helping people injured by negligent medical care recover compensation and will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or at 315-479-9000 to schedule a meeting.

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