Court Reverses Jury’s Zero-Dollar Damages Award Based on Finding That It Was “Clearly Inadequate”

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising an issue that occasionally arises in Washington, D.C. medical malpractice cases. Specifically, the court was tasked with determining if the jury’s zero-dollar damages award was sufficient or if the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial should be granted. After reviewing the evidence, the court concluded that the jury’s award was “clearly inadequate,” given the facts that were accepted as true.

Hospital BedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, an elderly woman, woke up one day with a terrible headache accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. After two days, the plaintiff’s symptoms did not subside, and she had her husband take her to the emergency room at the defendant hospital. Believing that she may have had a bad case of food poisoning, the woman explained her symptoms to the intake nurse, including her headache.

Throughout the plaintiff’s stay at the hospital, she complained of a headache and other various gastrointestinal issues. However, the intake nurse failed to note that the plaintiff was complaining of a headache. Thus, the plaintiff was diagnosed with high blood pressure with diarrhea and vomiting with no particular cause and was discharged with instructions to make an appointment with a primary care doctor for a follow-up.

The plaintiff’s husband made an appointment a few days later, but the plaintiff’s symptoms began to worsen, and before the date of the doctor’s appointment, she collapsed and called 911. She was taken back to the ER, where a CT showed she had a brain bleed and had suffered several strokes in the preceding days. As a result of not being treated, the plaintiff did not recover and was rendered completely disabled as a result.

The plaintiff, through her husband, filed a medical malpractice case against the hospital. The plaintiff sought compensation for over $1 million in medical expenses as well as compensation for her pain and suffering. The hospital argued that the plaintiff was negligent in failing to treat her known diagnosis of high blood pressure over the years.

The jury heard the evidence and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. However, the verdict only provided compensation for the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Nothing was awarded for her pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court determined that, given the jury’s finding that the hospital was liable, as indicated by the damages award for medical expenses, the verdict did not make sense in that it denied any compensation for the pain and suffering. Thus, the court determined that the verdict was “clearly inadequate” and reversed the decision so that another trial could be conducted.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of medical malpractice in the Washington, D.C. area, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers are well-versed in all areas of medical malpractice law, and they know what it takes to succeed on their clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Determines that Grocery Store’s Ignorance of Risk Cannot Excuse Its Lack of Knowledge in Recent Premises Liability Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2018

Court Excuses Plaintiff’s Untimely Filing Based on Dentist Fraudulently Concealing Potential Malpractice, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, May 2, 2018

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