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Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Punitives

Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Punitives

The Virginia Supreme Court’s refusal to grant Defendant’s Petition for Appeal in the $6,500,000.00 patient fall case of Med. Facilities of America XLVIII v. Crouse, Order, No. 130838 (Oct. 2, 2013) reh. denied (Jan. 21, 2014) is noteworthy. The underlying Circuit Court nursing home case decision is not cited by another published opinion yet. Crouse v. Med. Facilities of Am. XLVIII, 86 Va. Cir. 168 (Roanoke Jan. 22, 2013).

In a scholarly 21-page opinion, Crouse upheld the jury’s $1,500,000.00 compensatory damages award for medical malpractice, finding that the verdict supported by the evidence and that three trial tactics were appropriate. Id. at 169-78. More progressively, Crouse refused to set aside the jury’s $5,000,000.00 punitive damages award to the patient fall victim against the nursing home, finding that “judicial notice of survey results was proper,” id. at 178-84; that “the evidence supporting a finding that Defendants participated in, authorized, or ratified the conduct of employees,” id. at 184-85; that “the exercise of ‘some care’ does not bar punitive damages,” id. at 185-86; and that “punitive damages do not require a ‘duty to supervise’.” Id. at 186-87.

Despite Defendant appealing, the Virginia Supreme Court found “there is no reversible error in the judgment complained of”. Med. Facilities of Am. XLVIII v. Crouse, No. 130838, Order (Oct. 2, 2013). The discovery and evidentiary tactics in Crouse should be followed.