Friday, April 30, 1999

Malpractice verdict to stand, judge says

Damages against Children's may be appealed again

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A $3 million malpractice verdict against Children's Hospital Medical Center withstood another legal test Thursday.

        But the judge who allowed the verdict to stand also left the door open to an appeal by the hospital.

        In a ruling in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Judge Richard Niehaus rejected the hospital's bid to reduce the amount it was ordered to pay to the parents of 3-year-old Derek Goddard.

        The malpractice case has spanned three courts and more than nine years. A Hamilton County jury awarded $3 million in 1994.

        The case began when Gary and Donna Goddard sued the hospital, claiming Derek was not properly treated when he was taken to the emergency room Dec. 2, 1989.

        Although the jury ruled for the Goddards, the Covedale couple still has not been paid.

        The case returned to Judge Nie haus after an appeals court found he was incorrect in throwing out the verdict and ordering another trial.

        At a court hearing two weeks ago, hospital attorneys asked the judge to reduce the damage amount.

        But the judge ruled against the hospital, saying only the appeals court could make such a decision.

        In his ruling, the judge said a request to reduce damages requires the judge to either grant the request or order a new trial. And because the appeals court found he could not order a new trial, the judge said it would be up to the appeals court to decide the damages issue.

        The Goddards' attorney, John Metz, said the decision is good news because it allows the original damages amount to stand.

        “It finally means the court will enter the verdict that should have been entered in 1994,” Mr. Metz said.


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