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New York Court Discusses Standard for Granting a New Trial in a Delayed Diagnosis Case

A delay in receiving an accurate diagnosis can cause irreparable harm, but how long of a delay is sufficient to constitute malpractice is typically within the purview of the jury. If the jury issues a defense verdict that is contrary to the evidence of record in a delayed diagnosis case, the plaintiff can petition the court for a new trial, but the courts will not overturn a jury’s ruling unless it is clearly warranted under the law. In a recent case decided by a court in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, the standards for granting a motion for a new trial were thoroughly explained. If you sustained damages due to a delayed diagnosis, it is wise to speak with a seasoned Rochester misdiagnosis attorney regarding your options for pursuing recourse for your harm.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff was at a music festival with her husband when she became gravely ill. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where it was determined that she had critically low sodium levels, after which she was administered saline. Approximately six hours after she arrived at the hospital, she was deemed unresponsive, and three hours after that, she suffered a seizure. The attending physicians at the hospital subsequently ordered a neurological consultation with the defendant doctor’s medical group. The order did not indicate that there was an urgent need for the consultation.

Reportedly, the following day, the plaintiff underwent a neurological consult with a nurse practitioner. The defendant neurologist reviewed the nurse practitioner’s report and developed a differential diagnosis in which the defendant doctor concluded that the patient had many symptoms of central pontine myelinolysis. The following day, however, an MRI revealed that the plaintiff sustained a lumbar fracture and was suffering from cauda equina syndrome, which is a rare condition that, if left untreated, can result in permanent loss of function from the waist down. The plaintiff underwent surgery three days later.

Allegedly, following the surgery, the plaintiff required assistive devices to walk and several medications to control muscle spasms and pain. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the delay in providing an accurate diagnosis caused her harm. Following a trial, a jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict as against the weight of the evidence.

Grounds for Ordering a New Trial in a Medical Malpractice Case

Under New York law, the standard for assessing whether a jury’s verdict is against the weight of the evidence is whether the evidence was so greatly in favor of the plaintiff that the jury could not have issued the verdict based upon any fair evaluation of the evidence. The standard arose out of the principle that when a jury is presented with conflicting evidence that creates an issue of fact but resolves the matter in favor of the defendant, the jury’s findings should be upheld. Further, the jury’s resolution on credibility issues is entitled to deference.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the jury’s verdict was not clearly against the weight of the evidence. Although the plaintiff presented evidence that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care, the evidence of record also indicated that the delay in receiving a diagnosis was reasonable and that the plaintiff received prompt treatment after her diagnosis. Thus, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Speak with a Proficient Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis, you should speak with a proficient medical malpractice attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue to hold your care providers responsible. The zealous attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will tirelessly pursue the best legal outcome under the facts of your case. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through the online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting.

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