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New York Court Explains Standard for Setting Aside a Verdict in Medical Malpractice Cases

One of the key elements in any medical malpractice case is proximate cause. In other words, the injured party must prove not only that the care provider deviated from the appropriate standard, but also that the deviation caused the injured party’s harm. Causation is often difficult to prove in medical malpractice cases, and parties do not always agree as to what constitutes adequate proof. This was demonstrated in a recent hospital malpractice case in which the defendants appealed the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff as against the weight of the evidence, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove the defendants caused her harm. If you were injured by negligent care rendered in a hospital, it is advisable to meet with a proficient Rochester hospital malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is reported that the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital for the treatment of an acute asthma attack. During her admission, the plaintiff was treated by multiple physicians, including two attending physicians, a pulmonologist, and a nephrologist, all of whom were named as defendants. The plaintiff became hypercapnic during her admission and ultimately suffered permanent and severe brain damage. She subsequently filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. Following a trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $90,000,000 for pain and suffering, as well as special damages. The defendants appealed, arguing that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Proximate Cause Under New York Law

Under New York law, a court will not disturb a jury’s verdict unless it is contrary to the weight of the evidence. In other words, if the jury’s conclusion does not comply with rational reasoning given the evidence produced at trial. As such, any verdict that is not completely irrational should not be disturbed. A judge evaluating whether a verdict is against the weight of the evidence must assess whether the verdict relies on a fair evaluation of the evidence, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.

In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff presented several expert witnesses who testified as to the manner in which the defendants breached the standard of care, while the defendants offered testimony in opposition. The court was not persuaded by the defendants’ argument that they could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm because there was no evidence regarding the precise time when her injury occurred. Rather, the court held that the plaintiff did not have to prove that the defendants’ breach of the standards of care was the cause of her harm beyond all reasonable doubt. She only needed to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendants caused her harm. Thus, the court found the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.

Meet with a Seasoned Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained damages due to inadequate care in a hospital, it is prudent to consult a seasoned hospital malpractice attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you seek a favorable result. You can contact us at 585-653-7343 or via our form online to set up a confidential and free conference.

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