New York Court Reverses Award in Malpractice/Wrongful Death Action

New York Court Reverses Award in Malpractice/Wrongful Death Action

In Wild v Catholic Health Sys., 2011 NY Slip Op 5337 (N.Y. App. Div. 4th Dep't June 17, 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers / unenhanced version available from lexisONE Free Case Law], the decedent was treated at a hospital. After the decedent developed respiratory problems, defendant Raquel Martin, D.O., the emergency room physician, concluded that the decedent needed to be intubated. Following two unsuccessful attempts by Dr. Martin to place an endotracheal tube in the decedent's throat, Dr. Martin directed at least two other persons to attempt to place the tube. When those attempts failed, an anesthesiologist was summoned, and he successfully intubated the decedent. However, it was later discovered that the decedent's esophagus had been perforated during the intubation procedure.

The decedent and her husband commenced a medical malpractice action against multiple defendants seeking damages for the perforated esophagus, the injuries related thereto and loss of consortium. Following the decedent's death from causes unrelated to the alleged malpractice, plaintiff co-executors were substituted. The matter proceeded to trial, and the jury, having found that only Dr. Martin was negligent, awarded $500,000 for the decedent's pain and suffering and $500,000 for the husband's derivative cause of action.

On appeal, the court held that the award of $500,000 to the decedent's husband for loss of consortium deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation (NY CLS CPLR § 5501(c)). Based on the evidence presented at trial, the court concluded that an award of $200,000 was the maximum amount that the jury could have awarded. Therefore, the doctor was entitled to a new trial on the element of damages.

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