In Hugh v. Ofodile, the First Department cut by 99% a jury verdict to a plaintiff who claimed injuries following a thigh lift procedure. The medical malpractice action alleged a lack of informed consent and deviations from accepted practice. The plaintiff claimed injuries to her genital area, including scarring and a flattening of the labia majora. The jury awarded the plaintiff $60 million in pain and suffering damages [$10 million for past pain and suffering and $50 million for future pain and suffering]. Upon Post Trial Motion, the jury’s verdict was reduced to $4 million [$1 million for past pain and suffering and $3 million for future pain and suffering].
The Appellate Division sustained the liability findings, although noting that “the evidence of a departure was not overwhelming.” In reducing the pain and suffering award to a total of $600,000 [$300,000 each for past and future pain and suffering], the Appellate Division relied on the medical records which repeatedly described the plaintiff’s genitalia as “normal,” and the absence of expert testimony linking any alleged pain to the thigh lift surgery. In a partial dissent, Justices Richter and Catterson agreed with the reduction of the past pain and suffering award, but would have reduced to the future award to $1.3 million based on, among other things, the plaintiff’s long life expectancy.