Scarpati v. Kim
Justice Philip Minardo
Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) moved to set aside a jury verdict rendered in patient Scarpati's favor in this medical malpractice suit. SIUH argued the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. Scarpati cross-moved to set aside part of the verdict that failed to award her money damages for future pain and suffering. The court noted the jury unanimously voted that Dr. Beitler departed from accepted standards of medical care, but such departure was not a substantial factor in causing Scarpati to undergo a complete laryngectomy. Despite that, the jury granted Scarpati $1 million for past pain and suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life. The court noted the inconsistent verdict caused it to poll the jurors twice, and, claiming confusion, they were permitted to resume deliberation. Five of six jurors then found Beitler's departure was a substantial factor in causing Scarpati to receive a total laryngectomy. The court ruled that where the record shows substantial confusion among jurors in reaching a verdict, a retrial must be granted. It found there was ample evidence to believe jurors remained confused even after their reconsideration, concluding it would thus be inappropriate to permit the verdict to stand.