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New York Court Finds No Error In Verdict Sheet in Medical Malpractice Case

In a medical malpractice case, it is essential to set forth every manner in which malpractice was allegedly committed, and present evidence of the malpractice in a clear manner at trial. A plaintiff’s failure to provide sufficiently present evidence of malpractice can result in verdict sheets that do not adequately address the alleged malpractice and a verdict in favor of the defendant.

A New York appellate court recently affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the court did not err in adding questions to the verdict sheet regarding the alleged malpractice, due to the fact that the evidence presented only indicated malpractice in one aspect of care. If you sustained harm due to insufficient care or testing, it is important to retain a skillfulRochester medical malpractice attorney who will work diligently to help you pursue damages for your harm.

The Plaintiff’s Surgery

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent surgical resection of his colon, which was performed by the defendant. During the surgery, the defendant performed anastomosis, which is a procedure in which a damaged portion of the colon is removed and the healthy portions are reconnected. The plaintiff subsequently developed a leak at the site of the anastomosis and suffered sepsis, peritonitis and renal failure due to the leak. He filed a medical malpractice action against the defendant. Following a trial, a jury issued a verdict in favor of the defendant, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Sufficiency of the Evidence

On appeal, the plaintiff alleged the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The court noted that the disputed issue was whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care in testing the anastomosis for leaks during the surgery. At the trial, the plaintiff’s expert and the defendant’s expert disagreed as to the appropriate method of testing for leaks. The court stated that it deferred to the jury’s interpretation of credibility and that there was insufficient evidence to require it to disturb the jury’s verdict.

Challenges to the Verdict Sheet

The plaintiff also argued that a new trial was warranted because the trial court erred in submitting a verdict sheet with a single question to the jury regarding whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care in performing the anastomosis. The plaintiff argued that a second question regarding the testing of the anastomosis should have been included as well. The court declined to adopt this reasoning, stating that the plaintiff did not present any evidence of malpractice other than inadequate testing of the anastomosis, and therefore, a second question was not warranted.

The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the single question on the verdict sheet was confusing and caused the jury to conflate two distinct theories of malpractice: one related to performance and one related to testing. The court reiterated that only one theory of malpractice was presented to the jury, which is the malpractice arising out of the inadequate testing. As such, the court found no error in the trial court’s refusal to add a second question to the verdict sheet.

Consult a Seasoned Rochester Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, you should retain a seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorney to handle your case. The skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will thoroughly assess the facts of your case and work tirelessly to help you pursue a successful outcome. We can be contacted at 315-479-9000 or through the online form to schedule a confidential and free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court of Appeals Reverses Because Expert Opinion did not Sufficiently Establish Causation, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, December 26, 2018

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