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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
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Jury Should Not Have Been Allowed to Reduce Verdict

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A Suffolk jury should not have been told that it could reduce a medical malpractice victim’s verdict because of his choice of which hospital to go to following a nurse’s bad medical advice, according to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

In the lawsuit, Lawrence J. Monahan sought recovery from Obici Medical Management Services, Inc. for its nurse’s bad advice following signs and symptoms of an impending stroke. At trial Obici tried to shift the blame for the bulk of his catastrophic injuries to the patient, alleging that he didn’t go to the “right” medical facility when his condition worsened.

The Supreme Court ruled that there was not any evidence that the patient’s choice of medical facility played any role in his catastrophic injuries. The jury’s verdict of $215,000 was set aside and the case will be sent back for another trial solely on the issue of damages. The Court affirmed the verdict of malpractice against the corporation, however.

Defendants in medical malpractice actions often try to divert the blame for their carelessness to the patient, and oftentimes the jury buys these arguments. This ruling will benefit patients because the court requires firm and clear proof that the patient’s conduct caused an aggravation of his damages. Without such evidence the jury should not be allowed to reduce its award.

The case is Monahan v Obici Medical Management Services, Inc., Supreme Court of Virginia, (decided April 21, 2006)