Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NJ Court: Damages to Amputee Amounting to $8/Day "Grossly Insufficient and a Miscarriage of Justice"

Interesting decision from the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, which held that a medical negligence plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on compensatory damages after the damages awarded amounted to just $8 a day.

The case arose out of a claim that her doctors were negligent in treating her vascular disease, resulting in amputation of her leg. The jury awarded $800,000 for economic damages (ie medical bills, lost wages) but only $100,000 for pain and suffering. Plaintiff moved for an additur or a new trial on damages. In granting her request for a new trial on damages, the court observed:

"Here, after seven surgeries, plaintiff's leg was amputated above the knee. She experienced substantial pain and suffered permanent injury. Although she may learn to walk with a prosthesis, the evidence indicated she will ultimately be relegated to a wheelchair. As plaintiff has noted, the compensatory damages award, based upon plaintiff's life expectancy, amounts to $8.00 per day. We are convinced that the compensatory damages award is grossly insufficient and a miscarriage of justice. We are also persuaded that a recalculation of damages based upon the trial transcripts without having the opportunity to observe the witnesses would be a further miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, the matter is remanded for a new trial on the issue of compensatory damages."

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