Monday, December 13, 2010

Recent Pain and Suffering Award for Unnecessary Mastectomy

In Williams v. New York City Health and Hospitals, citing Motichka v. Cody (279 AD2d 310) and King v. Jordan (265 AD2d 619), the First Department affirmed past and future pain and suffering awards of $600,000 and $400,000, respectively, as reduced by the trial court from $3.5 million and $3 million, respectively, to plaintiff who underwent an unnecessary mastectomy. In dissent, Justice Catterson observed that the 32-year-old single plaintiff suffered profound emotional and psychological damage from the loss of her healthy breast and the severe disfigurement of her upper and lower torso. Therefore, the awards, as reduced, were too low and should have been reduced to $1 million and $1.5 million respectively.

The dissenting opinion is particularly worthy of reading, as Justice Catterson provides a lengthy analysis of the cases relied upon by the majority. Justice Catterson further explains that the loss of a breast in a young, single woman cannot be compared to the older, married plaintiffs in those cases; hence, the Judge's opinion that the larger award should be for future pain and suffering. Finally, Justice Catterson observed that Motichka/King and the present case can also be distinguished on the basis that the plaintiffs in those cases had argued that their breast cancer required less invasive treatment, whereas the plaintiff in the present case was cancer-free and required no further treatment.

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