Knox News reported last week on developments in a birth injury appeal. A family appealed an unfavorable jury verdict in their case claiming that the trial court judge made a series of critical errors. The appellate court agreed with the family and ordered a new trial.
The specifics of the negligence claim are familiar to our Chicago birth injury lawyers who work on these cases. The family filed suit against three entities: a regional medical center, an obstetricial and gynecological group, and their individual doctor. According to the suit the baby girl suffered a severe brain injury (as well as other injuries) as a result of medical malpractice. They claim that there was an unnecessary delay in the delivery which caused oxygen deprivation. This is one of the most common forms of preventable birth injury, as it is often (though not always) caused by medical professionals to fail to act with reasonable speed to relieve children in distress.
The family eventually contacted a birth injury lawyer to learn about their legal options. The family filed a lawsuit and the case ultimately went to trial. Yet, the family claimed that there were several errors made by the trial judge during the trial which unfairly limited their ability to receive a fair trial. The jury in eventually returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor. The family appeal the decision.
Recently, the appellate court granted the appeal. The grounds for the reversal of the trial court and the ordering of new trial were varied.
For example, the appellate court found that there was an improper time limit placed on cross-examination of the defendant. The trial judge’s time limit was deemed unreasonable, especially considering the complexity of the circumstances and the importance of the testimony.
In addition, the appellate court found it “highly prejudicial” that the trial court allowed evidence on the mother’s subsequent visit to the same doctor. Many different factors may be in play when it comes to why a mother would visit the doctor again. However, that has nothing to do with whether or not negligence occurred in the first pregnancy. Failure to take that into account and allowing the evidence was unfair to the family during the trial.
On top of that the appellate court noted problems with the conduct of the defense attorney during the trial. On two occasions the defense attorney referred to the family’s lawyer as being from “out of state.” On other occasions the lawyer mentioned that part of the trial was a waste of time. Together these comments had nothing to do with argued merits of the case but instead were mere attacks on the other side to influence the jury unfairly.
Our Illinois birth injury lawyers understand that it is important for the trial setting to be fair and impartial at all times. The trial judge plays a crucial role in this process, charged with ensuring highly prejudicial language is not allowed in the court and that both sides have their full rights respected during examinations. Failure in this regard is grounds for appeal and often mandates, as in this case, a new trial.
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