Appellate Legal Malpractice In 1896?
In a decision from the Appellate Division, Second Department from the June Term,1896, we learn of their frustration that the appellant had failed to provide a full record from a jury trial of a personal injury action. The court recounted that on January 27, 1894 a plaintiff had won her case against a landlord for injuries suffered while she was escaping from a burning building. The liability theory of the case was a failure to provide fire escapes resulted in plaintiff fracturing her leg and being confined to St. Catherine's Hospital for over 7 weeks. The jury found that the landlord was negligent in causing plaintiff's injuries but awarded a mere 6 cents for pain and suffering. The Second Department was struck by the inadequacy of the jury award noting that if her version of the evidence at trial was correct - "the verdict was entirely inadequate."
According to the appeals court, they couldn't set aside the low verdict and grant a new trial because: "If her statement was false and she was not confined in the hospital, it was easy to contradict her. But the difficulty with this appeal is that nowhere in the case is there a statement that it contains all the evidence....For want of a proper certificate, we are without power to review the order appealed from on the question argued before us." Revelski v Droesch, 39 N.Y.S. 1008 (2nd Dept 1896)
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