On June 11, 2013, Carlyle Roberts was brought by ambulance to Kings County Hospital after being involved in a hit-and-run car crash. He was treated for a fractured ankle and a head injury.
Mr. Roberts underwent surgery for his ankle injury but his hospitalization was extended for weeks because he had symptoms from subdural hematomas.
On July 23, 2013, Mr. Roberts, then 67 years old and retired, sustained a stroke that left him with extensive permanent injuries. He sued the hospital claiming a failure to timely address an advancing subdural hematoma.
The Kings County jury determined that the hospital had committed malpractice by not ordering CT scans from 7/2/13 to 7/22/13 and the jury then awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $21,500,000 ($10,000,000 past – six years, $11,500,000 future – 11 1/2 years).
The defendant argued not only that the damages award was excessive but also that the entire verdict should be set aside because the plaintiff’s counsel’s summation was improper and unfair. The judge agreed and issued a post-trial decision finding that the summation was so improper that it tainted the verdict and deprived the defendant of a fair trial. Therefore, she ordered the verdict vacated and directed that a new trial be held.
On plaintiff’s appeal in Yu v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. (2d Dept. 2021), the court agreed that some of plaintiff’s attorney’s conduct was improper but the court found that it was not so pervasive or prejudicial such that the liability verdict should be set aside; therefore, it was reinstated. The court did, though, agree with the defendant that the damages award was excessive and the pain and suffering award was reduced to $9,000,000 ($4,000,000 past, $5,000,000 future).
The jury also awarded, and the appellate court did not disturb, damages for future medical and other expenses in the sum of $7,861,000 (including, mainly, about $500,000 a year for 11 1/2 years of support care).
Here are the injury details, which plaintiff claimed amount to functional paraplegia:
- brain injury requiring craniotomy
- one year in rehabilitation facility
- needs assistance with daily activities
- primarily wheelchair bound
- cognitive impairment
- left side contractures, spasticity and hemiparesis
- Plaintiff’s pre-verdict settlement demand was $30,000,000 against an offer of $5,000,000.
- The jury took only one hour to reach its verdict.
- Plaintiff’s experts included physicians specializing in neurology, neurosurgery and physical medicine, a life care planner and an economist.The defense did not present a witness to controvert plaintiff’s medical testimony.