|TUNKHANNOCK – A Superior Court panel overturned a Luzerne County trial court decision on Monday that required a Tunkhannock doctor to pay $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages. In September 2005, Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan vacated a jury’s verdict, finding that the conduct of Dr. Asit Patel, “was a factual cause of harm and damage” to Linda Ferris who deserved punitive damages, according to court documents.|
| On Monday, the Superior Court stated in its opinion that the jury’s verdict had a reasonable basis.
“Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s orders and remand the case with direction to reinstate the verdict,” the state court said.
Attorney Eugene Feeney, of Scranton, said that Dr. Patel, an anesthesiologist, had not paid any damages because the case was in the process of being appealed.
“I think it’s fair to say we were happy with the outcome,” Mr. Feeney said.
After falling down a stairwell at the Beaumont Inn in Dallas Township, Ferris, of Plymouth, was diagnosed with health conditions, including reflex sympathetic dystrophy, according to court documents.
In November 2001, Ferris was referred to Dr. Patel at Tyler Memorial Hospital for pain management treatment.
Ms. Ferris filed a complaint against Beaumont Inn owners James and Elizabeth Harkins to recover damages on March 20, 2002, and she was subsequently examined by Dr. Patel.
Dr. Patel indicated that he “doubted” Ferris suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy and forwarded his conclusions to Ferris’ attorney, according to court documents.
During discovery, Ferris’ attorney obtained an e-mail from the Selective Insurance Co. that stated that Dr. Patel is a friend of Harkins and thought the Plymouth woman was “not in much pain.”
The e-mail also stated that an employee at the insurance company told Harkins that, “the doctor would need to put his findings into a report,” according to court documents.
On June 13, 2003, Ferris filed a lawsuit against Dr. Patel, the Harkins and the insurance company.
Ferris alleged in the complaint that Dr. Patel conspired to delay a settlement.
A settlement for $945,000 was reached in February 2005.
About two months later, the Luzerne County jury found Dr. Patel liable for six counts, including intentional misrepresentation of material facts, breach of contract and invasion of privacy.
However, the jury did not award damages and determined that Dr. Patel’s conduct was not the factual cause of harm to Ferris and did not cause delay in the settlement payment, according to court documents.
The state court also indicated that testimony during the trial failed to show that Dr. Patel’s actions caused Ferris emotional harm.
Following the jury’s verdict, a post trail relief motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial was filed on behalf of Ferris.
Scranton attorney Tim Lenahan said that the state court and the trial court did not address the request for a new trial.
Lenahan added that a motion for reconsideration will be filed so that the case is heard before the entire court.
|©The New Age Examiner 2007|