In a move that surprised a packed courtroom, Superior Court Judge Alice Gibney today passed (aka declared a mistrial) the case of Vann v. Women & Infants Hospital after a five-week medical negligence trial and between defendant’s closing argument and plaintiff’s closing argument.
Gidley, Sarli and Marusak represented the defendant hospital and DeLuca and Weizenbaum (disclosure: where I work) represented the plaintiff child. The plaintiff alleged that employees of the defendant hospital used excessive force in attempting to resolve a shoulder dystocia (a stuck shoulder) during the birth of the plaintiff in 2000, causing severe and permanent nerve damage to the boy’s right arm such that he has virtually no function of his right arm.
Judge Gibney decided to pass the case after finding the actions of defense counsel, Michael G. Sarli, in closing argument to be “disingenuous” when he argued to the jury a theory of causation that the judge explicitly excluded during the trial. She said that his argument was prejudicial to the plaintiff. In addition, she also said that it would be prejudicial to the defendant if she were to read a curative jury instruction to the jury. The Court did not elaborate on the latter point.