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Hospital contests jury’s multimillion-dollar malpractice award in court. Redish v. Adler, 65 Misc. 3d 1227 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019)


Medical malpractice claims can result in multi-million dollar verdicts when juries find healthcare providers significantly deviated from accepted medical standards, leading to severe patient harm. These substantial awards often compensate for pain, suffering, and life-altering injuries. However, due to the large sums awarded, such verdicts frequently face appeals by defendants seeking to reduce the amount. Defendants argue that the awards are excessive and not in line with legal standards or precedents. Appeals can hinge on interpretations of evidence regarding the appropriateness of the awarded damages, potentially leading to reduced payouts or retrials, prolonging the resolution of the case.

In Redish v. Adler, 65 Misc. 3d 1227 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019), the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice after receiving treatment at for severe asthma case, leading to a substantial jury verdict.

Background Facts
The plaintiff, treated for severe asthma at St. Barnabas Hospital, suffered a severe neurological injury attributed to substandard care. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants, responsible for her medical care, failed to treat her asthma according to established medical standards and did not provide nor transfer her to a facility equipped with necessary advanced respiratory support technologies, namely Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) or High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation (HFOV). Due to these alleged failings, the plaintiff reportedly suffered brain damage which resulted in significant disabilities, including confinement to a wheelchair and substantial impairments in her speech and communication abilities.

A jury awarded the plaintiff $90 million, allocating $60 million for past pain and suffering and $30 million for future pain and suffering over 34.5 years, in addition to special damages. The defendants contested this verdict as excessive and inconsistent with the evidence, prompting legal motions to reduce the award and reassess the evidence presented.

Whether the jury’s verdict was supported by sufficient evidence and whether the damages awarded were excessive.

The court decided not to set aside the jury’s verdict, finding it supported by legally sufficient evidence. However, it considered reducing the damages awarded for pain and suffering.

The court assessed the evidence presented, confirming that the jury reasonably concluded that the defendants’ treatment fell below the standard of medical care and contributed significantly to the plaintiff’s injuries. Expert testimonies supported the plaintiff’s claims, highlighting failures in managing the asthma treatment and responding to the resulting medical crises. Despite this, the court recognized the need to adjust the award for pain and suffering, citing comparisons with similar cases.

The “accepted standard of medical care” refers to the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under similar circumstances. This standard is not a uniform measure but varies depending on factors like geographic location, the state of medical advancements, and the specifics of the patient’s health condition.

In medical malpractice cases, proving a deviation from the accepted standard of care is crucial. A plaintiff must establish that the healthcare provider acted in a way that a competent doctor would not have under the same circumstances. This is often demonstrated through expert testimony, where medical experts explain what the accepted standards are and how the defendant failed to meet them.

If a patient suffers harm as a direct result of such a deviation, the healthcare provider may be held liable for medical malpractice. The relationship between the standard of care and medical malpractice lies in the obligation of health care providers to offer treatment consistent with the generally accepted practices of their professional peers and the medical community at large. Failing to do so can result in legal action for negligence if it causes injury to a patient.

If you believe that medical negligence has impacted you or a loved one, contact a knowledgeable New York medical malpractice lawyer who can provide guidance and representation to help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

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