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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
Attorney • (703) 584-7277

The "Final" Verdicts You Don't See

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Every once in a while you undoubtedly read about a verdict that seems too large, at least on the limited facts that appear in most newspapers.

Often times these “runaway” verdicts start up a new round of calls for “reform.”

The truth is that the legal system already has in place methods for verdicts to be reduced by the person in the best place to make a judgment, the judge.

This happened recently in New York. According to New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Eric Turkewitz, a judge cut a medical malpractice verdict for future pain and suffering to 10% of the original award.

That decision was appealed (another safeguard already built into the system) and, according to the appellate court the trial judge was correct in reducing the award:

The result of plaintiff’s nasal reconstructive surgery was cosmetically not to her satisfaction. The court found no medical support for future pain or difficulty in breathing. Reduction of damages for future pain and suffering was thus warranted because the amount awarded by the jury deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation under the circumstances.

The system for reviewing verdicts by judges and appellate courts is far better, and makes a lot more sense, than enforcing arbitrary limits (like Virginia’s arbitrary limit on medical malpractice awards).

Arbitrary caps, or limits, do not take into consideration any facts about a particular case and thus have the effect of harming only the most seriously injured patients. (Think about it, a guy with a $100,000 case in Virginia can collect his entire award. A catastrophically injured person, with medical bills in the millions, doesn’t even get all of his medical bills reimbursed in Virginia. Who pays for that? You do.. You pay for arbitrary caps on malpractice awards because often the devastatingly injured person relies on assistance from the Commonwealth of Virginia to survive.)