By its decision dated April 10, 2014, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department (Bronx County, New York) affirmed the trial court’s reduction of the medical malpractice jury verdict that awarded the plaintiffs $300,000 for past pain and suffering and $4,200,000 for future pain and suffering for a serious injury to an infant’s right hand that resulted in the loss of the top portion of four fingers, which rendered her unable to perform certain activities with her right hand and caused her to be the subject of ridicule by other children.
The plaintiffs alleged that a physician treating their infant daughter in a hospital NICU deviated from the accepted standard of care in treating the infant. The plaintiffs presented testimony and evidence during the medical malpractice trial that the physician, who was not a party to the medical malpractice lawsuit, should have removed the arterial line placed in the infant’s right wrist immediately upon being informed that cyanosis had been observed on the tips of the fingernails on the middle fingers of her right hand and that the failure to do so caused the infant to lose the top portions of four fingers on her right hand.
The trial judge decided to order a new trial unless the plaintiffs agreed within 30 days to the reduction of the amounts of the medical malpractice jury’s awards from $300,000 to $200,000 for past pain and suffering, and from $4,200,000 to $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The plaintiffs appealed the trial judge’s reductions to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department (Bronx County, New York) (“Supreme Court”).
The Supreme Court stated in its April 10, 2014, decision, “Plaintiff suffered a serious injury to her right hand, resulting in the loss of the top portion of four fingers, which rendered her unable to perform certain activities with that hand and caused her to be the subject of ridicule by other children. However, based upon a review of cases involving similar injuries, we find the damages award excessive to the extent indicated.”
Source Zalaya Tart, an Infant by her Mother and Natural Guardian, Kia Bynoe, et al., Plaintiffs-Respondents v. New York Bronx Pediatric Medicine, P.C., et al., Defendants-Appellants, Anthony Njapa, M.D., et al., Defendants. 2014 NY Slip Op 02522.
In a medical malpractice case where an unbiased jury selected by the parties considers all of the trial testimony from all of the witnesses, considers all of the admitted evidence, and there is no indication or evidence that the jury misbehaved or otherwise failed to follow the judge’s instructions, we are at a loss to understand how and why the Supreme Court would second-guess the jury and affirm the trial judge’s decision to wholly disregard the jury’s awards and supplant the jury’s considered determination of the amount of damages with the judge’s sole determination of the “proper” amount of damages to which the plaintiffs were entitled.
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