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New York Court Discusses Standard for Setting Aside a Verdict in the Interest of Justice in a Medical Malpractice Case

In most medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff will rely on a jury to assess the evidence presented at trial to determine if the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm. While a jury determines the key issues in a case, the judge determines what evidence each party is permitted to introduce to the jury and what guidance and instructions the jury receives. As such, if a judge permits a defendant to introduce testimony that should be precluded or bars the plaintiff from setting forth relevant evidence, the plaintiff may subsequently receive an adverse verdict. In such cases, the plaintiff may be able to have the verdict set aside in the interest of justice. Recently, a New York appellate court assessing the verdict in an orthopedic malpractice case discussed the standard for vacating a verdict in the interest of justice. If you sustained damages due to a negligent orthopedist, it is in your best interest to speak with a skillful Syracuse orthopedic malpractice attorney regarding your case.

Evidence Introduced at Trial Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant orthopedic surgeon arising out of a negligently performed knee replacement. The plaintiff introduced evidence at trial that the defendant improperly fitted a prosthesis into the plaintiff’s knee, overstuffed the knee, and deviated from the accepted standard in providing post-operative care, all of which led to the need for revision surgery. Following the liability portion of the trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict in the interest of justice, which the court denied. The plaintiff then appealed the judgment and the order denying the motion.

Setting Aside a Verdict in the Interest of Justice

Pursuant to the New York laws of civil practice, the court may set aside a verdict in the interest of justice upon the motion of a party or by its own initiative. The rule is predicated on the belief that the judge presiding at a trial is in the best position to assess whether any errors were committed at trial. A motion to set aside a verdict in the interest of justice can arise out of errors in the trial court’s ruling regarding the admissibility of evidence, newly discovered evidence, surprise, or mistakes in charging the jury.

In evaluating whether to grant a motion to set aside a verdict in the interest of justice, a judge must determine whether the moving party was denied substantial justice based on his or her own sense of fairness and common sense. Here, the plaintiff’s motion arose out of the trial court’s ruling regarding the admission of evidence regarding the defendant’s standard practices and procedures. The appellate court found that the admission of such evidence did not constitute an error or deprive the plaintiff of substantial justice. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Discuss Your Case with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you were harmed by a negligent orthopedic surgeon, it is wise to meet with a capable Syracuse orthopedic malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to assert against your care providers. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, our diligent attorneys have the knowledge and experience required to help you seek a successful result, and we will zealously advocate on your behalf. We can be reached through our form online or at 315-479-9000 to schedule a meeting.

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