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Jury's Five-Minute Deliberation Was Fair In Ophthalmology Malpractice Case, Court Affirms

Thursday, April 8, 2010 Medico Legal News J E 4
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State appeals court rejects claim that jurors should have taken more time in deciding for the defendant

NEW YORK, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Five minutes was enough time for a jury to reach its verdict in favor of a Manhattan ophthalmologist who had been wrongly sued for malpractice, according to the state court of appeals, which last Tuesday threw out the appeal, with costs.

The plaintiff had sought to appeal a tersely worded decision issued in December by the Appellate Division, First Department, which had also ruled the jury's quick deliberation had not undermined the plaintiff's right to a fair trial. Representing the defendant, Neil H. Ekblom, a shareholder in LeClairRyan's Tort Defense Group and leader of its medical malpractice defense team in Manhattan, argued that the original 2007 verdict, which found no liability against the defendant and awarded no payments or costs to the plaintiff, was based upon solid medical evidence and expert testimony, and that the jury could reasonably have reached a proper verdict in the five minutes it spent deliberating the case.

"The jury knew the facts and the medicine very well when it retired to deliberate," noted the veteran attorney, who was assisted by counsel Afaf Sulieman in drafting the respondent's brief. "The jurors had heard from eight physician witnesses on one issue over the course of the trial, and there was only one liability question."

Citing Lopez v New York City Transit Authority, 60AD3d 529 (2009) and other cases, the state appeals court found that "the verdict was based on a fair interpretation of the evidence," and that the jury could reasonably have concluded, based on the evidence and testimony presented, that the "defendant had not departed from acceptable standards of care and treatment" in his area of medical specialty.

"The brevity of the jury's deliberations alone did not undermine plaintiff's right to a fair trial," the court stated in its decision.  "We reject plaintiff's contention that the judgment is inconsistent with the evidence."

About LeClairRyan

Founded in 1988, LeClairRyan provides business counsel and client representation in corporate law and high-stakes litigation. With offices in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the firm has more than 300 attorneys representing a wide variety of clients throughout the nation. For more information about LeClairRyan, visit www.leclairryan.com.

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SOURCE LeClairRyan

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