For medical malpractice.
He was careless.
His carelessness caused you harm.
Your doctor said he did nothing wrong.
Your doctor said you contributed to your own injury.
He also said your injury wasn't as bad as you claimed.
You were upset.
You had no choice but to proceed forward with your lawsuit.
The defense refused to negotiate.
They refused to offer a dime.
They said they'd see us at trial.
You figured you'd have to spend years going through litigation to get a verdict.
You had multiple experts.
All were board certified experts.
Medical specialists in different fields of medicine.
You believe you had a better case.
Your attorney told you that you had a better case.
He couldn't guarantee your result, but he felt good you had a better case than the defense.
Your case went to trial.
You said the sky was blue.
The defense argued the sky was orange.
You said it was 10:00 a.m.
The defense said it was 3:00 p.m.
Every piece of evidence was fought over.
It was nasty.
You felt you were on moral high ground.
You hoped the jury understood.
During trial, you felt the judge favored the doctor.
You felt the judge made more rulings in favor of the defense compared to your side.
It felt unfair at times.
Your attorney said that was normal.
It took an entire week to present all your evidence and testimony.
The defense also took an entire week to present their evidence.
Two full weeks of evidence and testimony.
It was now time for closing arguments.
His argument lasted an hour.
Then, your lawyer made his closing argument.
Your attorney took an hour and a half.
But there was something that happened during your attorney's closing argument that stuck in your mind.
The defense lawyer jumped out of his skin when he heard it.
The jury didn't seem thrilled he made that comment.
Your attorney inflamed the jury.
Your attorney was trying to get the jury riled up.
He accused the defense and the defense lawyer of being liars.
He accused the defense's medical experts of being whores.
He argued that they would say anything for a price.
He also called them paid gunslingers.
After listening to your attorney make closing arguments, you felt confident the jury would reach a verdict in your favor.
The judge then gave the jury legal instructions for about an hour.
The jury then began to deliberate.
Since they had only two hours before the end of court, the judge let them deliberate for two hours and then sent them home for the night.
By lunchtime they had a verdict.
The first question the jury had to answer is whether your doctor was negligent.
The jury said “yes.”
You were excited hearing this.
The second question the jury had to answer was whether your doctor's carelessness was a cause of your injury.
The jury did in fact say “yes.”
You were getting more and more excited.
You quickly realized that the first two questions were decided in your favor.
You knew, in your heart of hearts that's what would happen.
The jury agreed that you were more likely right than wrong.
Since the jury determined that your doctor was legally responsible for your injuries, they now had to answer how much money you were to receive as compensation for all of your damages.
The jury was asked to evaluate how much money you were going to get for your pain and suffering, from the time of the malpractice until the time of trial.
Legally, that's known as past pain and suffering.
This is also known as a form of “non-economic” damages.
You can't believe your ears!
The jury just decided you were entitled to receive $10 million for all the suffering you had the past few years.
You are beyond excited.
You want to scream and shout!
You hold yourself back since the jury isn't finished.
The jury then determines you are entitled to receive $500,000 for all your medical expenses.
The jury also decides that you are entitled to receive $15 million for all of your pain and the suffering into the foreseeable future.
The jury decides that you will live for another 35 years, based upon statistical life expectancy tables.
The jury also decides that your spouse is entitled to receive a small amount of money to compensate him for all the struggles that he has put up with while helping you with your injuries.
The jury gives him $100,000 for his troubles.
Legally, that is known as a claim for loss of consortium.
You quickly add all these amounts up in your head.
That's a lot of money.
You believe you are fully entitled to all of that.
Because the jury said so.
Because the jury decided that you were more likely right than wrong that what you were claiming is true.
Your evidence and testimony established that your doctor was careless.
You're treating doctors were able to demonstrate to the jury that your injuries were permanent and disabling.
You feel vindicated.
You feel you were right all along.
Just think, the defense had an opportunity to settle this case early on for a fraction of the amount the jury gave you.
They were pigheaded to believe a jury would rule in their favor.
You knew all along that you would win this case.
You trusted your attorney and he came through for you.
You are beaming.
You want to shout out to the entire world how great you feel right now.
Before you have a chance to truly process what just occurred, you begin to notice some heated argument between the attorneys and the judge.
In your haste to add up the total amount of the verdict, you did not hear the judge thank the jury for their time spent evaluating your case.
The judge thanks them for their jury service and promptly sends them out of the court to go home to their families.
Before you have a chance to do that and before everyone leaves the courtroom, the defense attorney jumps up out of his chair and begins making all sorts of legal arguments to the judge.
There's a lot of handwaving going on.
There's a lot of angry assertions by the defense attorney.
You're not really sure what he's arguing about.
You realize that the defense attorney is asking the judge to throw out your verdict.
You begin to get angry.
At the defense attorney.
“How dare he do this!” you think.
A jury of six people in the community decided that you are entitled to receive that money as compensation for all of your injuries.
How could he possibly do this?
It doesn't look like this argument will end quickly.
The defense lawyer is going on and on.
Your attorney says just the opposite.
Your attorney says that all of the evidence confirms that you are more likely right than wrong and fully entitled to this verdict.
The defense lawyer argues that the amount of the verdict is outrageous and not in any way related to your actual injuries.
This legal argument continues for the next 30 minutes.
“I've heard enough,” the judge says.
"I've made my decision," he says with finality.
“It is my determination after hearing the testimony and evidence in this case that this jury's verdict cannot stand. It is my opinion that the verdict is clearly against the weight of the evidence on the issue of liability, causation and most certainly on the issue of damages. Accordingly, I hereby order that the jury's verdict be stricken and that this case be dismissed with prejudice. Court adjourned!”
What just happened?
You would be right.
The judge just threw out your verdict.
The judge just overturned the jury's entire function.
The judge decided to do away with collective opinions of six members of your community.
He disregarded their conclusions.
He threw them out.
Each and every one of them.
He agreed with the defense lawyer's argument.
He agreed with the defense attorney's conclusion that there is no possible way his carelessness was a cause of your injury.
He also agreed with the defense attorney that the amount of money the jury decided you were to receive was way out of line for the injuries you actually suffered.
You want to throw up.
You're on an emotional roller coaster.
Every type of emotion comes flooding out.
You want to cry.
You want to scream.
You want to hit something.
You don't know what to say.
The elation that you felt only moments earlier has now left your body.
You feel deflated.
You feel dejected.
You feel humiliated.
This is not good.
This is not right.
You need to speak your attorney immediately to fix this.
He has invested hundreds and hundreds of hours of his time prosecuting your case.
He has invested thousands upon thousands of dollars of his money to prosecute your case.
He has spent the past two weeks working like a dog.
He has done an admirable job.
What the hell you going to do now?
Can you get the judge to reverse his ruling?
Can you appeal the judge's order?
Can you get the jury to come back and explain their verdict?
You're back to square one.
You hastily pull your attorney aside.
You want him to explain.
If your judge made improper legal rulings can you do anything about it?
You can appeal your case to the appellate division.
That's the next highest court above the trial level court in New York.
But it's not a new trial.
Instead, a group of judges reviews the evidence and testimony.
If they were, they look to see if those errors made a difference in the outcome.
If they didn't, they'll call those legal errors 'harmless error'.
If they felt those legal errors made a difference, then they can send your case back to the trial judge to retry your case.
They could also send your case to a new judge.
There's a lot of time and expense involved in appealing a case.
Some law firms have their own in-house attorneys who specialize in appeals.
Those that don't will likely have to hire outside counsel to handle the appeal.
It could cost $15,000.
It could cost $25,000.
It might be more.
It might be less.
In your malpractice case, your attorney pays all the expenses on your case with the hope and expectation that he'll get repaid when you obtain money on your case. Then, he'll receive a percentage of what he gets for you if you are successful.
What that really means is that he ONLY gets paid if you are successful.
What other profession does that?
I don't know of a single other profession that agrees to be paid only if you get a good result.
Instead, he gets either a flat fee or an hourly fee.
That money must be paid upfront.
Plus, there's no guarantee of any result.
The bottom line is that the jury decided you won.
You now appeal.
An appellate court could agree with you.
Then again, they might not.