The Original Verdict
In that case, the plaintiff brought suit against a Stony Brook Anesthesiology and others because of claims of mistreatment during surgery for chronic knee pain.
The plaintiff alleges that during a spinal procedure to relieve her pain, she ended up with partial paralysis of one leg.
After a five to one jury decision against the plaintiff, the Supreme Court in Suffolk Country awarded a verdict for the defendant.
The Appellate Division's Verdict
The plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Division, an intermediate appellate court in New York, against an order by the Supreme Court denying her motion to set aside the jury verdict as a matter of law or to order a new trial and against the final judgment itself.
The Appellate Division in a unanimous decision reversed the judgment and ordered a new trial on the issue of the defendant’s liability.
The new trial will take place back in the Supreme Court of Suffolk County, where the trial originated.
The Appellate Division also issued a costs order in favor of the plaintiff.
What the Appellate Division Said
The Appellate Division stated that the defense attorney made “inflammatory and inappropriate summation comments” and “an inappropriate cross examination” in front of jurors.
The defense attorney in question, who was unnamed in the opinion, repeatedly claimed in court that the plaintiff was “working the system.”
The Appellate Division also cited that the defense attorney called the plaintiff’s physician the “go to” doctor in Suffolk County for patients who want to stop working, claimed the plaintiff’s expert anesthesiologist was “out of control” and questioned about mishaps even though there was no evidence of mishaps linked to the expert’s practice, and asserted the credibility of a defense expert by thanking “God there are people like [him] who are the stopgap.”
The defense attorney defended his in-court statements in this case, saying they were “definitely fair comment.”
He noted that the trial judge considered a motion on this issue and rejected it.
Mr. Kelly also stated that he intends to continue to represent the defense in the upcoming retrial.
New York Medical Malpractice Victims Need an Advocate
Regardless of how the retrial turns out in Suffolk County, this case is yet another reminder of the need for all victims of New York City medical malpractice to have a fair but aggressive advocate on their side.
In an effort to avoid accountability, some deep-pocketed medical interests try to stop talking about the evidence in the case and instead appeal to emotion and irrelevant issues.
At the end of the day one issue matters in these cases:
Did the patient receive unreasonable care that caused them harm?
The accountability function of our civil justice system depends on private individuals hurt by inadequate care to come forward and demand redress.
No matter what inflammatory remarks are made in or outside of the courtroom, this basic principle remains unchanged.