A medical malpractice case does not end with a jury verdict. There are a number of post-trial procedures that need to be followed before that verdict becomes a final judgment. And even then, the losing side–especially if it is the negligent doctor or hospital–may seek to appeal the judgment. This is where working with a medical malpractice attorney experienced with Ohio court procedures can prove invaluable.
Appeals Court Rejects Defense’s Interpretation of “Final Judgment” Date
A recent medical malpractice case from Dayton, Harrison v. Horizon Women’s Healthcare, LLC, offers a good example of this principle. This case involves a birth injury to a child who is now 12 years old. The child’s mother received prenatal care from the defendants, Horizon Women’s Healthcare and one of its doctors. When the mother went into active labor, she went to a local hospital where the defendant physician managed a vaginal delivery.
During the delivery the child sustained a complication known as shoulder dystocia. Basically, the child’s shoulders became stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. To address this, the doctor applied downward traction to the child’s head and neck. This, in turn, damages the child’s brachial plexus nerves. These are the nerves that control the muscles in a person’s arm. In some cases, brachial plexus injuries in newborns resolve within a month or so of birth. In other cases there is permanent damage.
Here, the parents’ medical malpractice lawsuit said there was permanent damage to the child, including “permanent loss of function” to his right arm and “other deformities and disabilities.”
The case was tried before a jury in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. In February 2018, the jury returned a verdict finding the doctor was negligent in the child’s delivery, and that his negligence caused the child’s injuries. The jury awarded the child and his family $2.75 million in damages.
After the verdict both sides still needed to resolve a number of issues, including the amount of prejudgment interest owed to the plaintiffs. The parties informed the judge of their agreement on this issue on June 12, 2018. This prompted the judge to enter a final judgment on June 18 for $2.5 million. (The judge reduced the jury’s verdict to comply with Ohio’s statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.)
On July 16, the defense filed a motion for a new trial. The date of this motion is important. Under Ohio court rules, a party has 28 days from the entry of a final judgment to ask for a new trial. July 16 was 34 days after the final judgment here, so the judge struck the motion as untimely.
The defendant appealed to the Second District. He argued that while the judge approved a “proposed judgment entry” on June 15, she did not enter a final judgment until June 26. If true, this meant the defense did ask for a new trial within the 28-day window.
But the Second District rejected that timeline and affirmed the judgment. The June 15 entry, the appeals court explained, indicated the “parties have resolved all claims and issues” and reflected the jury’s verdict against the defendant. This was sufficient to make the June 15 order “final,” regardless of how it was captioned.
Contact the Cleveland Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter Today
Even when the victim is a child and the physician’s negligence might seem obvious, you should never underestimate the lengths that any malpractice defendant will go to avoid a civil judgment. This is why you always need to work with a qualified Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Ohio’s civil justice system. Contact Tittle & Perlmutter at (216) 308-1522 today if you, or someone in your family, has been injured due to physician negligence.