October 2007 Archives

Woman Who Died Day after $150,000 Future Pain and Suffering Award Still Entitled to Payment

October 15, 2007

Due to defendant's failure to comply with certain court orders, the court entered a judgement for liability against defendant in plaintiff's lawsuit after she fell on defendant's steps. At inquest, plaintiff was awarded $150,000 for future pain and suffering. Plaintiff died the next day. Defendant argued that the $150,000 awarded for what was one day of pain and suffering was unfair and contrary to the legislature's attempt to reform tort awards. The Court found that the legislature's efforts were directed at awards above $250,000 and allowed the $150,000 award to stand, particularly where defendant caused plaintiff's case to be significantly delayed.

Punitive Damages Properly Awarded for Disclosing Medical Information

October 13, 2007

Plaintiff underwent an abortion at defendant's facility. Plaintiff specifically told defendant not to contact her at home, as she knew that her parents would not approve of the procedure. Nevertheless, not only did defendant call plaintiff at home, but the nurse provided enough information to plaintiff's mother so that her mother understood that plaintiff had undergone an abortion. Although the court did not find that defendant conducted itself in bad faith or that defendant's conduct was intentional, it found that punitive damages were permitted, as neither bad faith nor intentional conduct was required for such a finding. So long as the conduct complained of was negligent or reckless and sufficiently blameworthy, and advances a strong public policy to deter future conduct, punitive damages may be awarded. In this case, the court found that defendant's failure to have a formal, written plan to protect its patient's privacy, particularly given the sensitive nature of the procedures, and the failure by the Center to be sufficiently organized to prevent the kind of disclosure complaint of, together with the careless disclosure by the nurse of private information to one she knew to be plaintiff's mother was sufficient to allow punitive damages.