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New York Court Explains Statements Permitted by Attorneys During Birth Injury Trials

The job of a lawyer in a medical malpractice case is to argue that the evidence presented demonstrates liability or exonerates a defendant. Although counsel is granted broad leeway in how they describe the testimony offered at trial, they cannot couch evidence or otherwise make statements that are prejudicial to the opposing party. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion explaining the parameters of admissible statements in matters involving medical negligence in a birth injury case. If your child sustained an injury before or during birth, you could be owed significant damages, and it is prudent to meet with a skillful Syracuse birth injury attorney.

The Plaintiff’s Care and Subsequent Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was pregnant, received prenatal care from the defendant obstetrician-gynecologist throughout the course of her pregnancy. She underwent an ultrasound at 20 weeks, which revealed that she had a low lying placenta. A second ultrasound a month later did not report the same result, however. Her pregnancy progressed normally, but she experienced sudden bleeding one day and went to the hospital, where she underwent an emergency caesarian section.

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s infant was born in a state of distress and sadly died four hours later. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant’s departure from the standard of care led to her child’s harm. A trial was held, and the jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to set aside the verdict, which the court denied. The plaintiff then appealed.

Statements Permitted by Attorneys During Birth Injury Trials

The only issue considered on appeal was whether two statements made by the defendant’s attorney during closing arguments were inflammatory and therefore prejudicial. The remarks in question pointed out inconsistencies in the expert’s testimony, calling into question his credibility.

The court explained that regardless of whether the defendant’s attorney’s characterization of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony was improper, the plaintiff’s counsel failed to make an object to the remarks during the trial. Further, the plaintiff’s attorney did not request that the trial court issue curative instructions to the jury at the time the remarks were made. Thus, the issue was not preserved for appeal.

The court went on to explain that regardless of whether the issue was properly before the court, attorneys are given wide latitude with regards to commenting on and characterizing testimony during closing arguments. The court ultimately found that the defense counsel’s remarks were not so prejudicial that they deprived the plaintiff of a fair trial. Thus, the verdict was affirmed.

Confer with a Seasoned Syracuse Attorney

Preventable errors can cause birth injuries that tragically lead to lifelong detriments or death. If your child sustained a birth injury due to the negligence of a physician, it is advisable to speak to an attorney regarding your potential claims. The seasoned medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are sensitive to the devastation families often experience due to birth injuries, and we will fight tirelessly to help you seek a favorable result. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or through the online form to set up a consultation.

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