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Court Discusses Grounds for Granting a Directed Verdict in a Medical Malpractice Case in New York

Typically, whether a medical provider is guilty of malpractice is an issue that is presented to the jury at trial. In cases in which liability, or the lack thereof, is clear, though, either party may ask the court for a directed verdict, to avoid the risk of the jury ruling improperly. A trial court judge, like a juror, is human, however, and can make errors in judgment, such as granting a directed verdict when the evidence does not clearly resolve disputed issues. This was illustrated in a recent emergency room malpractice case in New York in which the trial court’s directed verdict was overturned on appeal. If you were harmed by incompetent care rendered in an emergency room, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Rochester emergency room malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the emergency room of the defendant hospital complaining of difficulty hearing and dizziness. He was examined and discharged without a diagnosis. He later suffered profound hearing loss in his right ear. He then commenced a medical malpractice case against the defendant, arguing the failure of the emergency room doctors to recognize and diagnose his inner ear infection led to significant harm.

Allegedly, during the trial, the plaintiff set forth expert testimony stating that the emergency room doctors breached the standard of care by failing to realize that the plaintiff was suffering from a serious infection, and the breach led to the plaintiff’s harm. Following the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, the defendant moved for a directed verdict. The court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Grounds for Granting a Directed Verdict in a Medical Malpractice Case

Under New York law, a trial court can order a directed verdict in favor of the defendant when it is clear, based on the evidence of record, that it would be completely irrational for a jury to reach a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. In other words, a court directed verdict in favor of one party is appropriate when the evidence demonstrates that there is no significant factual dispute and therefore, the party moving for the directed verdict is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Here, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion. Specifically, it found that the plaintiff submitted testimony from multiple experts that would allow a jury to find that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. As such, the trial court ruling was reversed, and the plaintiff’s complaint was reinstated.

Speak to an Experienced Rochester Attorney

Doctors that work in emergency rooms are expected to thoroughly assess patients suffering from acute issues, and when they fail to do so, it can lead to lasting harm. If you were injured due to the incompetence of a doctor, it is prudent to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The experienced Rochester emergency room malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at handling claims against negligent health care providers and we will work tirelessly to help you pursue any damages you may be owed. You can reach us at 585-653-7343 or through our form online to set up a meeting.

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