Undiagnosed asthma patient loses her day in court
Catrina Gee's malpractice case, brought on behalf of her daughter against the daughter's pediatrician, was dismissed despite the Defendant's expert's acknowledgement that the doctor didn't comply with the standard of care.
The Court of Appeals upheld the jury's decision that Ms. Gee's had not proved malpractice by the doctor. By law the Court was obligated to enforce the jury's verdict unless it concluded that no reasonable juror could have reached the same conclusion. The Court was obviously troubled by the jury's decision. The doctor apparently treated Ms. Gee's daughter for about five years without diagnosing asthma and then for two more years without providing standard of care asthma treatment. Even Defendant's expert witness conceded that defendant "did not take certain actions required under the standard of care generally applicable in treating asthmatic patients".
The Court noted, however, that the standard on appeal of a jury verdict is not whether the reviewing court would have reached the same conclusion, but rather whether the jury's result was "against the great weight of the evidence". In other words, whether "reasonable minds could differ" under the facts as seen from the prevailing party's perspective. Under this standard, the Court held that it could not disturb the jury's verdict for the pediatrician.
This decision helps to illustrate why malpractice claims are the most difficult injury claims for a victim to win: if there is no "smoking gun", jurors will excuse many poor outcomes if a physician provides them with a plausible defense theory.