A girl who suffered brain damage while waiting for an ambulance won a $172 million judgment against New York City on Wednesday when a Bronx jury determined that Fire Department paramedics could be held liable for giving her mother bad advice.
The jury reached a verdict after a three-week trial in State Supreme Court, said Thomas A. Moore, a lawyer for the girl’s family. It was one of the largest awards of its kind in city history.
Fay Leoussis, the chief of the tort division in the Law Department, said the city would appeal the verdict. “While this is a tragic case, we believe that the jury’s verdict is not consistent with the law,” she said.
City officials say they are also hopeful that the award might be reduced by the appellate court.
The trial came after the Court of Appeals ruled last year that the city’s blanket immunity from lawsuits arising from the performance of normal government functions, like responding to 911 calls, did not apply in this case.
I’ve written about big jury awards previously, and how they are almost always appealed. Although Mr. Moore is confident the award will hold up, I don’t think it will.
Jury awards like this represent an emotional jury response to an awful injury. That’s fine, but the awards are not, as the Law Department attorney said … “we believe that the jury’s verdict is not consistent with the law.”
What these big verdicts do is stall a resolution. So the family of this poor girl might decide to settle the case for much less, especially if they need compensation to pay for the girl’s care. Although I fervently hope the family will get a lot of money, I don’t think it will be $172 million.