Richmond County Jury Finds Rehab Center Failed to Prevent Fall From Wheelchair-Awards $6M - Reduced to $1M
On December 27, 2023, the Appellate Division, Second Department overruled a Staten Island trial judge who reduced a jury verdict of $6,000,000 to $500,000. The appeals court held that a $6,000,000 award for three years of past pain and suffering was excessive but that $500,000 was inadequate and allowed the plaintiff to recover $1,000,000. The plaintiff apparently died of an unrelated longstanding medical condition of Parkinson's disease and his widow became the representative of his estate. The jury accepted plaintiff's contention that while her husband was in the care of Clove Lakes Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, Inc they failed to prevent his fall from a wheelchair resulting in a displaced fracture to his left hip. As a result of the fracture the decedent required a hip replacement surgery.
Post surgery the plaintiff's husband returned to the defendant rehab center for physical therapy. Although his hip healed, the decedent complained that his legs were numb and within six months, he was no longer able to walk and developed dementia. The decedent remained at the rehab for three years until his death, complained of ongoing pain, an inability to walk and depended on a wheelchair for mobility. Romano v Clove Lakes Heath Care & Rehabilitation Ctr., Inc., 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 0676
PS- For those unfamiliar with reduction of a jury verdict by a trial judge or appellate court, the plaintiff must always be given an option to accept or reject the reduction of a jury award within 30 days. If the plaintiff refuses to accept the reduction, the damages component of the case will be retried before a new jury, though plaintiff may appeal an unfair reduction as happened in the above case.