Friday, December 29, 2023

Superior Court Upholds Defense Verdict Reached By Jury After 14 Minutes in Med Mal Case

In the case of Corey v. Wilkes-Barre Hospital Co., LLC, No. 507 MDA 2021 (Pa. Super. Dec. 11, 2023 en banc) (Op. by King, J.) (Olson, J. Concurring) (Kunselman, J. Dissenting), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed numerous issues in a medical malpractice claim in which a nonsuit, in part, had been granted and in which issues were raised with regard to the verdict slip and the short length of time that the jury deliberated before announcing its defense verdict.

With respect to the Plaintiff’s post-trial challenges in regards to the identity of the parties on the verdict slip, it was noted that the trial court had confirmed that Plaintiff’s counsel failed to object to the verdict slip when the trial court had provided an opportunity to the attorneys, immediately prior to the slip being provided to the jurors, to note any objections. The trial court had indicated that, when asked if counsel was satisfied with the verdict slip, Plaintiff’s counsel answered in the affirmative.

On appeal, the Plaintiff had also complained that the jury returned a verdict within only fourteen (14) minutes after the case had been given to the jury for a decision. The Plaintiff argued that the Plaintiff did not believe that the short conference by the jury resulting the verdict should had been considered “deliberations.”

The appellate court disagreed and rejected the Plaintiff’s request that the case be remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether an improper outside influence, or other misconduct, influenced the jury’s deliberation. The appellate court found that the trial court had correctly determined that the Plaintiff failed to offer any good reason to justify further inquiry into the validity of the verdict.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Concurring Opinion by Judge Olson can be viewed HERE.  The Dissenting Opinion by Judge Kunselman can be viewed HERE.

Source: Article – “Rejecting Verdict Slip and Jury Deliberation Challenges, Superior Court Affirms Nonsuit for Northeast PA Hospital” By Riley Brennan of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Dec. 12, 2023).

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