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September 25, 2015

New York Appellate Court Provides Guidance as to Value of Cervical Spine Surgery

In Swatland v Kyle, 130 A.D.3d 1453 (N.Y. App. Div. 4th Dep't 2015), Plaintiff commenced an action to recover damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. At trial, Plaintiff's testimony and the medical evidence demonstrated that the Plaintiff sustained herniated discs at C5-C6 and C6-C7 that required surgery. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff and awarded Plaintiff $30,000 for past pain and suffering and $15,000 for future pain and suffering.

Plaintiff made a post-trial motion seeking to increase the damage awards for past and future pain and suffering, or in the alternative, a new trial on damages. The trial court denied the post-trial motion. On appeal, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department modified the trial court's ruling on the post-trial motion. The Fourth Department held the jury's award materially deviated from what would be reasonable compensation for Plaintiff's injuries. Accordingly, the Fourth Department held that Plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on damages for past and future pain and suffering, unless Defendants stipulated to increase the award of damages for past pain and suffering to $150,000 and future pain and suffering to $50,000.

The Court's opinion provides guidance to attorneys and insurance companies evaluating damages for cervical injuries for cases pending in the Fourth Department.


If you require further information regarding the content of this Legal Alert, please contact either of the Co-Chairs of the Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area, Thomas J. Drury, at (716) 858-3845 or tdrury@barclaydamon.com or Matthew J. Larkin, at (315) 425-2805 or mlarkin@barclaydamon.com.

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