Defense Lawyer Says Uneducated Jury Can’t Decide Malpractice Case

malpractice juries education

Are jurors just not smart enough?

Defense lawyer tries medical malpractice case in Frederick, Maryland. He loses big. $7 million verdict. Here’s what he says to the media after the verdict:

The jury’s verdict is significant because it makes the case for much-needed reform of Maryland medical malpractice law. First, in a brain-damaged baby case, the issues are of such complexity that it cannot be expected that juries with limited education can possibly understand the issues, especially when their knowledge of the medicine comes from highly paid biased experts.”

Okay.  Let’s unpack this.  What does it mean?

First, let’s put his in context.  I’ve only had reporters in my face once walking out of court.  (I was young. I walked by briskly and said, “no comment.”  I can’t lie. Really fun.)  You ask a lawyer or a party to the litigation a question after a verdict, you will get some crazy answers.  Particularly if you lose.  This was not that.  This was a written statement.   This was premeditated.

I would try to wait until the end of the post for the punchline.   I really was.  But I can’t.  I’m afraid someone won’t read that far.  The plaintiff did not plead a jury trial.  This lawyer was the one that plead a jury trial.  He could have avoided the “uneducated people” he now says cannot make the decision.  

That messes up the flow of the story.  But I couldn’t hold it back anymore.  Let’s pretend I have not mentioned that yet.

Anyway, let’s get back to the quote: “juries with limited education.”  Boy, that is loaded.  People are not smart enough to understand the evidence when it is laid out for them by medical experts in a way where a reasonable person can decide. Right or wrong, that is the position this defense attorney is taking.

Let’s say for fun he’s 100% right.  Only smart people should make these calls.  We need to change everything.  The President of the United States has to deal not with an isolated complicated issue like a birth injury, but multiple complicated issues that are far more complex.   Do uneducated people understand what is right for the economy?  Do they understand what we should do in Iran or Syria, where we have problems that could be characterized as wildly complex even in their most basic terms?   We vote on these issues.  Saying juries can judge complexity that is broken down and spoon-fed to them is the same as saying these people should be allowed to vote.  In fact, I would argue it is more dangerous if the uneducated people are voting under this theory.  A bad baby case is about monetary damages in a single case.   The collective votes of these uneducated people change the history of the world in modern democracies.

But going back to the punch line, this lawyer chose a jury.  The Plaintiff’s counsel did not want one.  Under his own logic, that was legal malpractice, right?   Except it was not.  Juries are more inclined than judges to give doctors the benefit of the doubt, which is why he made the right call.  This is just a classic case of sour grapes.

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