Friday, June 4, 2021

Pennsylvania Superior Court Affirms Granting of New Trial in Zero Award for Pain and Suffering Where Medical Expenses Awarded

In the case of Mazzie v. Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg, No. 473 EDA 2020 (Pa. Super. April 16, 2021 Kunselman, J., Nichols, J., and Pellegrini, J.) (Op. by Nichols, J.), the court ruled that a trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting a Plaintiff a new trial limited to damages in her medical malpractice action after finding that the liability issues were fairly determined and were not intertwined with the damages issues.

The case arose out of a medical malpractice action following a laparoscopic surgery to repair multiple hernias. After the surgery, the Plaintiff allegedly suffered septic shock and required additional surgeries and treatment to safe her life.

The appellate court also found that the trial court had correctly granted the Plaintiff a new trial on damages for pain and suffering even though the jury entered a verdict for $0 on the Plaintiff’s non-economic damages claims. The court found that there was significant testimony and evidence to confirm the Plaintiff’s alleged pain and suffering to the point that the Plaintiff almost died following the treatment.

In another notable part of this opinion, the Court reviewed the validity of an expert's opinion where the expert did not use the words "to a reasonable degree of medical certainty" during his or her testimony.  The Court found that, viewing the expert's testimony as a whole, the testimony was sufficiently certain even though the magic words were not used.    

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 4, 2021).

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