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New York Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

If a medical malpractice case proceeds to trial, whether a not the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff largely hinges on the testimony and evidence offered by each party. Generally, a jury is free to credit or discredit the evidence presented and a jury’s verdict will not be disturbed unless it is clear the verdict could not have been reached through a fair interpretation of the facts of the case.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York recently explained the standard for evaluating a jury’s verdict in a medical malpractice case, in a case where the jury found in favor of the defendant. If you suffered damages due to incompetent medical treatment, you should consult a knowledgeable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your treatment and whether you may be able to recover damages for your harm.

The Plaintiff’s Treatment and Subsequent Lawsuit

Allegedly, the defendant performed a procedure on the plaintiff, which was intended to prevent her from becoming pregnant. During the procedure the defendant placing a coil into each of the plaintiff’s fallopian tubes, which caused inflammation and the closure of the tubes. The tubes placed during the procedure contain nickel. The defendant did not test the plaintiff for a nickel allergy before or after the procedure. The plaintiff subsequently tested positive for a nickel allergy. She then filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant. The case was tried in front of a jury and the jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence. The trial court denied the order, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Determining Whether a Verdict is Contrary to the Weight of the Evidence

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court stated that the standard for assessing whether the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, was whether the evidence is so clearly in favor of the plaintiff that the verdict could not have been reached through any reasonable interpretation of the evidence. This standard emphasizes the principle that when a jury weighs the evidence presented at trial and finds in favor of a defendant based on an interpretation of that evidence, the verdict should be upheld. Moreover, the court explained that the issue of credibility of witnesses and experts is within the jury’s domain and the court should defer to the jury’s findings.

Here, the court found that the jury’s verdict was not against the weight of the evidence. Whether the plaintiff informed the defendant that she had reactions to belt buckles and certain jewelry as a child was disputed, and the jury was permitted to credit the defendant’s testimony over the plaintiff’s. Further, the jury was allowed to credit the testimony of the defendant’s expert, who stated that testing for a nickel allergy was not required by the standard of care. While the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in not submitting evidence from the manufacturer of the coils, she failed to object to the preclusion at trial, and therefore, did not preserve the issue for appeal.

Schedule a Consultation with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to a physician’s failure to provide adequate care, you should consult a skilled  Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss the facts of your case and to develop a plan for pursuing compensation. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano our seasoned medical malpractice attorneys will work diligently to help you seek damages from those responsible for your harm. We can be contacted at 315-479-9000 or via our online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting.

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