In medical malpractice cases, the task of evaluating a plaintiff’s damages is usually assigned to the jury. While assessing the cost of past and future medical care is a relatively straightforward task, determining the value of the suffering and pain endured by the plaintiff is not a clear-cut process. As such, the jury may issue a verdict that does not align with the evidence produced at trial. In such instances, either party can move to set the verdict aside, but establishing that a jury’s damages award is inappropriate can prove difficult. Recently, a New York court discussed the standards used in evaluating whether a verdict should be vacated in an opinion issued in a nursing malpractice case. If you were injured due to negligent nursing care, you could be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Syracuse nursing malpractice lawyer to discuss your options.
The Decedent’s Harm
It is reported that the decedent was receiving care in a long-term nursing facility when he choked on a piece of food. He subsequently suffered a heart attack, lapsed into a coma, and died several weeks later. The plaintiff, the representative of the decedent’s estate, filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant facility. The complaint alleged that the nurse that performed CPR on the decedent failed to check his airway for an obstruction, which constituted a departure from the standard of care.
Allegedly, the complaint further asserted that the nurse’s breach of the standard was a substantial factor in bringing about the decedent’s harm. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury issued a verdict granting the plaintiff $300,000 for the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering. The plaintiff then moved to set aside the verdict on the issue of damages as against the weight of the evidence. The court denied the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
Grounds for Setting Aside a Jury’s Verdict
The appellate court explained that a motion for judgment as a matter of law, or to set aside a verdict, may only be granted when the trial court finds that based on the evidence offered at trial, there is no rational line of reasoning and permissible inferences that could possibly lead reasonable people to the conclusion drawn by the jury and no sensible process that would lead to a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.
In evaluating such a motion, the court must grant the party opposing the motion every inference that can properly be drawn from the facts presented, and the facts must be considered in a light that is most favorable to the non-moving party. In the subject case, the appellate court found that, contrary to the plaintiff’s assertion, the damages awarded did not materially deviate from what was reasonable. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney
Nurses, like doctors, are expected to provide their patients with competent care, and if they fail to do so, they can be held accountable. If you were hurt by the negligence of a nurse, you should speak to a lawyer about your potential claims. The experienced nursing malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at proving careless medical providers should be liable for harming their patients, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome. You can contact us via our online form or at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.