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Punitive Damages of $500,000 Against Doctor For Discarding Treatment Notes In Wrongful Death of 6 Year Old

Today was the first time a New York Appellate Court upheld an award of punitive damages against a physician for “destroying medical records in an effort to evade potential medical malpractice liability.” A Queens County jury had awarded punitive damages of $7,500,000 which the trial judge reduced to $1,200,000. On appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, the award for punitive damages was upheld but again reduced to $500,000. An additional award of compensatory damages of $500,000 was not challenged.

This was a wrongful death action on behalf of a 6 year old girl against a pediatrician and a pediatric endocrinologist who both failed to diagnose the child's Type 1 diabetes. As a result, the child developed diabetic ketoacidosis resulting in cerebral edema which caused her tragically unnecessary death. In Type 1 diabetes the body's immune system attacks the pancreas where insulin is made. The plaintiff's expert explained that: “in Type 1 diabetes if we don't give them insulin they will die.” The expert also explained that there is a 99.9% chance that a 5 year old with diabetes has Type 1. The jury also awarded $400,000 for the child's pain and suffering and $100,000 for the family's monetary loss.

At the pre-trial deposition the doctor claimed she had typed up her handwritten medical notes on the date of each visit. However, the doctor admitted at trial that four months after her patient died, she destroyed her handwritten notes and prepared typed reports for two critical visits because the family's attorney requested all her medical records. The typed reports were demonstrably fabricated to hide the doctor's ignorance of the child's life threatening condition. Gomez v Mercado, 2018 WL 444195

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts of 2011" and "Top New York Settlements of 2012." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He is a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!

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