There have been only a few civil jury trials conducted during the Pandemic in the eight counties of Western New York. I recently participated in one of those in New York State Supreme Court, Erie County, before Justice Frederick Marshall in Buffalo. I represented the Plaintiff in a medical malpractice case against a physician (OB/GYN) and her employer, General Physician, PC.
My client was a 53-year-old Black woman who underwent a hysterectomy at Children’s Hospital in 2014 and, two weeks later, was diagnosed with a near fatal bowel perforation and sepsis due to the surgery. The exact cause of this injury was never conclusively determined but our expert physician felt that it was probably due to the improper use of a retractor by the defendant doctor.
The trial was conducted over two weeks beginning on May 5 with the verdict delivered on May 18. All proceedings were conducted in accordance with the current New York State OCA protocols which, among other things, required all participants to remain socially distanced and wear masks at all times.
We had an extremely dedicated group of jurors who must be acknowledged for their willingness to serve in the midst of a Pandemic (they were all given the opportunity to opt out and declined) as well as for carrying out their service under somewhat difficult and abnormal conditions.
From the first day of jury selection, we discussed how important it was for the entire community to get the wheels of justice moving again and how this special group of jurors was making that happen. It is sobering to think about, but for the last year and three months, without courts and juries operating, there had been no civil justice in Western New York.
In closing, on May 18, I told the jury that hopefully they would end the long drought that day, and three hours later they did, delivering a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for $1.45 Million Dollars.
We believe that this is the first civil jury verdict obtained for a Plaintiff in the eight counties of Western New York since the beginning of the Pandemic. It should stand as a testament to the ability of our civil justice system to continue to function even under the unprecedented and challenging circumstances brought on by Covid-19.