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YEAR / STATE
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Let’s take a look at hospital malpractice verdicts and settlements in Massachusetts in recent years. I’m writing this on March 31, 2021 so we do not have a ton in recent years.
Why? Hospitals in Massachusetts — or anywhere — are usually not racing to the courthouse steps to try cases. They have too much in PR and goodwill to risk a loss so they settle the good cases they could lose.
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Last week, in Siebert v. Okun, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state’s damages cap in medical malpractice cases was constitutional, concluding the law did not violate the right to a trial by jury. This ruling struck down the Bernalillo County District Court’s 2018 ruling on Siebert v. Okun.
The New Mexico legislature passed the Medical Malpractice Act in 1976. The law caps damages in medical malpractice cases at $600,000. It applies to lost wages and pain and suffering. The cap excludes punitive damages and compensation for medical and rehabilitative treatments.
The average personal injury verdict at trial in Connecticut is $2,519,637, according to Jury Verdict Research.
This is great ammo if you are a personal injury lawyer trying to trump up the value of your case or if you are a tort reform advocate trying to show that juries are going wild. But this is unbelievably misleading.
The median personal injury verdict in Connecticut is $22,499, less than 10% of the average. Only 4% of verdicts exceed $1 million and I would love to see how many of these verdicts are actually collected. My guess? Less than half. Someone got a $326 million verdict in this study. I didn’t look up the verdict, but somehow I doubt someone wrote a $326 million check.
Earlier this year in Winter v. Gardens Regional Hospital, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived a False Claims Act case filed by the Director of Care Management in a California hospital that claimed nearly $1.3 in Medicare claims that sought reimbursement for inpatient hospitalizations that were not medically necessary.
The U.S. District Court of Utah dismissed the case, without leave to amend, for failing to state a claim under the FCA. Specifically, the court believed that the qui tam plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a cause of action under the FCA because the allegations as a matter of law were “subjective medical opinions” that demonstrated a mere “difference of opinion” as to the medical necessity of inpatient hospital admissions.
In Georges v. Ob-Gyn Servs., P.C. the defendants, a midwife, and a medical practice, unsuccessfully attempted to overturn and $1.6 million in interest that accumulated as the result of defendants’ refusal to accept an offer of compromise after a $4.2 million jury award.
The plaintiffs’ birth injury lawyer (James D Horwitz of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder) filed their original complaint alleged that the defendants committed malpractice during the mother’s pregnancy, labor, and during the delivery of her child. The plaintiffs claimed that this malpractice caused the child to suffer severe and permanent injuries. The lawsuit claim that result of the defendants’ medical malpractice in managing shoulder dystocia, a young girl sustained a severe, permanent injury to her right brachial plexus.
According to a Jury Verdict Research study that was published this month, the average compensation for a personal injury lawsuit in Texas over the last six years is a compensatory median award for personal injury trials in Texas is $826,892. The highest verdict was over $100 million which, obviously, inflated the average verdict. The median verdict is only $12,281. Certainly, medical malpractice reform in Texas has not helped this number in recent years. Unless it is a birth injury case or other claim with long term catastrophic injuries and future medical care or future lost wages, a Texas medical malpractice lawyer is hard to find.
Keep in mind too, Texas is not so much a state as several countries in terms of how they value personal injury cases. So a verdict in East Texas might be very different than a verdict in San Antonio for the exact same case.
Jury Verdict Research’s recent study finds that the compensatory median award for personal injury trials in New York is $287,628, dwarfing the nationwide median is $34,550.
New York has favorable juries, particularly in its urban areas. But the reality is that this number is distorted by the lack of smaller and mid-sized car accident lawsuits. Under New York’s no-fault law, an insurance company is required to pay drivers, passengers, and pedestrians up to $50,000.00 for their legitimate economic and medical losses but does not provide for pain and suffering.
Only permanent injury cases can recover more than $50,000. This leads to fewer lawsuits in smaller cases – of which there are many – which increases the overall award in New York.
Jury Verdict Research published a recent study indicating that the average verdict in personal injury lawsuits in Ohio is 303,955. The median personal injury verdict in Ohio is only $13,000. Approximate three percent of Ohio personal injury verdicts exceed $1,000,000.
Under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 8541 et seq., political subdivisions in Pennsylvania, including public schools, receive a broad degree of governmental immunity under Pennsylvania tort law. But there are specific exceptions. In the recent case of Brewington v Philadelphia School District, the state’s high court expanded the “real property exception” to governmental immunity.
A nine-year-old boy was engaged in a relay race during his gym class at a Philadelphia elementary school when he tripped and fell. As a result, he was propelled into the concrete gym wall where he hit and cut his head causing him to lose consciousness. Soon after, doctors diagnosed him with a concussion that prevented him from attending school for nearly two months after the incident and experienced continuing headaches and memory problems for years after. The gymnasium wall in its surrounding entirety lacked any kind of padding to cover the concrete and provide at least some degree of protection.
A Jury Verdict Research study found that the median award in Minnesota in personal injury cases is an even $30,000. Minnesota personal injury plaintiffs receive an award in 67 percent of cases that go to trial.
The median compensation in Minnesota is somewhat below the national median of $38,179 and I suspect Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester verdicts inflate that average a bit. But because Minnesota has no-fault coverage (or PIP) in motor vehicle wreck claims up to $40,000 ($20,000 for medical bills and $20,000 for economic loss) that is subject to the collateral source rule, Minnesota personal injury lawyers tend to have few small cases in Minnesota.
In other words, Minnesota law provides that awards are offset by collateral source payments (if the source of reimbursement does not have a subrogation right). So the gap between Minnesota’s median and the national median verdict is probably wider than the numbers reflect. Not surprisingly, U.S. Chamber of Commerce data found Minnesota juries to be the “15th best” which means the 15th worst for personal injury victims.