NFL Player Wins MedMal Lawsuit Against Doctor
Former New York Giants running back, Michael Cox, recently won a $28 million lawsuit against a doctor who he claims cost him his career. In 2014, a failed surgery ended Cox’s career. In 2013, Cox suffered a severe leg and ankle injury and underwent surgery from the hospital’s orthopedic trauma service. The surgery, however, failed to repair the running back’s left ankle leaving him unable to play football for the remainder of his life.
When you end someone’s career, the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages related to lost earnings. In this case, the jury awarded the running back $12 million in lost earnings and $16 million in pain and suffering damages. So, committing medical malpractice against an NFL player tends to cost doctors a lot of money. In this case, the doctor who committed the medical malpractice is now deceased. However, his medical malpractice insurance policy continues to cover events that occurred while he was still alive.
It appears likely that the defendants will appeal the verdict in this case. While they may not be too upset that a jury found their client committed medical negligence, they are likely balking at the size of the pain and suffering damages award. They will try to reduce the award by threatening an appeal. No check will be given to a plaintiff while their case is being appealed. However, the jury award is still very much real and the amount owed to the plaintiff will continue to accrue interest if the defendant does not win their appeal.
On what grounds can a defendant appeal a personal injury verdict?
Appeals happen routinely in personal injury cases both as plaintiffs and defendants. The only reason you’re allowed to appeal a verdict, is that you believe the trial court erred on a matter of law. In most cases, the trial court does not err on a matter of law, but if it does, then verdicts can be vacated and the case would be remanded to the trial court so that it can be tried again. For plaintiffs, this is a worst-case scenario. For defendants, it is a dodge of the bullet. It is much more common for a defendant to use the threat of an appeal to negotiate a settlement than it is for the defendant to actually file the appeal and have it heard.
On what basis can you file an appeal? Defendants have a lot of good reasons. Firstly, if a jury reaches a verdict that you believe they did not have enough evidence to reach, then you can file an appeal on that basis. If the judge denied evidence into the record that you believe should have been considered, you can file an appeal on that basis. If the judge explains the law in a manner that prejudices the jury against the defendant, you have grounds for an appeal. Essentially, if evidence was admitted that should not have been admitted, evidence was excluded that should not have been excluded, or the court prejudiced the jury against either litigant, the case must be retried. If the verdict violated the law or otherwise legal procedures were not followed, then the case can also be retried.
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