New Jersey Malpractice Lawsuit Remanded for New Trial and $70M Award Overturned

The New Jersey Supreme Court has overturned a record $70 million medical malpractice verdict, saying the trial was plagued with errors.

The overturned verdict, which was reportedly the largest ever for a New Jersey malpractice lawsuit, was awarded to the parents of Casey Pellicer, who suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen after spina bifida surgery at Saint Barnabas Hospital in 1998.

In a 6-0 ruling, the state’s highest appeals court remanded the case for a new trial, saying bias against medical professionals led to contamination of the juror pool and made it impossible for attorneys to determine which potential jurors may have been biased. The decision also cited questionable decisions regarding expert testimony and evidence that the jury was prevented from seeing as additional reasons that the verdict must be negated.

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According to the complaint, Pellicer was four months old when he underwent spina bifida surgery at the hospital to remove a cyst from near his spine. The family alleged that after the surgery a breathing tube became dislodged, depriving the infant of oxygen to the brain. As a result, he suffers from learning, speaking and motor function disabilities.

The original trial held nurse Delphine Anderson, physician Anne Olesnicky and two of Olesnicky’s trainers, Michael Vallee and Norman Zeig, responsible for the injuries caused by the lack of oxygen. The jury awarded $75 million, which was adjusted down to $70 million, including $50 million for pain and suffering.


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