Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reaffirms General-Verdict Rule For Personal Injury Matters on Appeal

In the case of Shiflett v. Lehigh Valley Health, No. 43 MAP 2018 (Pa. Sept. 26, 2019) (Op. by Donohue, J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the Superior court erred in remanding a medical malpractice case for a new trial on damages when that decision by the Superior Court went against the “general-verdict rule” previously adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiffs pursued this medical malpractice action in connection with injuries the Plaintiff allegedly suffered while in the hospital for knee surgery.

At trial, the Plaintiffs returned the verdict in favor of the Plaintiff awarding them in excess of $2 million dollars in damages.

On appeal the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that one of the claims upon which the Plaintiffs prevailed was barred by the statue of limitations and should not have been submitted to the jury.  After finding that some portion of the jury’s damages award may have been based on that time-barred claim, the Superior Court remanded the case for a new trial on damages.   

Upon further appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this decision concluded that the Superior Court had erred in remanding the case for a new trial on damages given that, under the “general-verdict rule” adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Halper v. Jewish Family & Children’s Services,, 963 A.2d 1282 (Pa. 2009), the hospital waived any entitlement to a new trial on damages when the hospital failed to request a special Interrogatory on the verdict sheet that would have permitted the jury to allocate damages awarded on each claim.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of Justice Donohue's Majority Opinion in this decision may click this LINK.

The Dissenting Opinion by Justice Saylor can be viewed HERE.

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