In its decision filed on August 23, 2017, the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department (“New York Appellate Court”) affirmed the $1 million New York medical malpractice jury award in favor of the plaintiffs in a case involving an undiagnosed perforated colon during a colonoscopy.
The plaintiffs filed their New York medical malpractice case against the defendant physician who had performed a colonoscopy on the male plaintiff, alleging that the defendant failed to advise him regarding the signs and symptoms of a colon perforation following a colonoscopy, and then failed to properly treat the infected perforation after it had been detected in a CT scan. The plaintiffs alleged in their New York medical malpractice lawsuit that as a result of the defendant’s medical negligence, the plaintiff had to undergo a Hartmann procedure in which a foot-long section of his colon was removed, requiring a colostomy, and that he also required a subsequent surgery to reverse the colostomy, and then a third surgery for a hernia repair.
The New York medical malpractice jury found the defendant liable to the plaintiffs and awarded the plaintiffs the principal sums of $600,000 for past pain and suffering and $400,000 for future pain and suffering. The defendant moved to set aside the New York medical malpractice jury’s verdict and for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, to set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court and a judgment was subsequently entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant in the principal sum of $1,000,000. The defendant then appealed.
The New York Appellate Court Decision
The New York Appellate Court stated that a motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to CPLR . . . 4404 may be granted only when the trial court determines that, upon the evidence presented, there is no valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could possibly lead rational persons to the conclusion reached by the jury upon the evidence presented at trial, and no rational process by which the jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Similarly, a jury verdict should not be set aside as contrary to the weight of the evidence unless the jury could not have reached the verdict by any fair interpretation of the evidence.
The New York Appellate Court stated, “Here, there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury’s findings that Aronoff departed from accepted standards of medical practice in failing to provide Raymond with written post-colonoscopy instructions and failing to warn him as to the signs or symptoms of which he should be aware. Aronoff also failed to contact Raymond and instruct him to go to the hospital after Aronoff had reviewed CT scan results that revealed a colon perforation. The evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury’s findings that these deviations proximately caused Raymond’s injuries.”
The New York Appellate Court further stated, “Moreover, the jury’s findings were based on a fair interpretation of the evidence and, thus, were not contrary to the weight of the evidence … Since the plaintiffs and the defendants both presented expert testimony in support of their respective positions, it was within the province of the jury to determine the experts’ credibility … and we discern no reason to disturb the jury’s credibility determinations … Furthermore, the amount of damages awarded is primarily a question for the jury, whose determination is entitled to great deference … We find that the amount of damages awarded by the jury for Raymond’s past and future pain and suffering did not materially deviate from what would be reasonable compensation.”
Source Gaspard v. Aronoff, 2017 NY Slip Op 06258
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