Lawyer Thomas Moore has instantly become something of a legend in legal circles after he secured a $130 million verdict after being publicly ridiculed for turning down an $8 million settlement and losing the first trial and then facing a hung jury in the second trial of his medical malpractice case.
The trial concerned a tragic case in 2009 against St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson where a botched delivery left now ten year old Shannon Reilly with brain damage. The hospital failed to notice that the baby was getting no oxygen. Before the verdict in the first trial, Moore turned down the $8 million settlement. That trial then led to a defeat for the family and hospital defense lawyer Peter Kopff publicly mocked Moore for turning down the offer: “I’m not aware of another attorney who’s turned down an $8 million offer and got shut out.” He can now add that Moore is the first attorney that he knows personally who traded an $8 million offer for a $130 million verdict.
After the first loss, Moore took an appeal and secured an unanimous reversal. The second trial then led to a hung jury. The third was the charm, which led to the huge award.
Kopff is back in the news with a public attack on Moore’s courtroom conduct, saying that he violated professional standards, including calling one of his witnesses a liar.
The judge could now reduce the award through an order of remittitur. Judges cannot increase an award but they can reduce it. They leave the attorney with the choice of accepting the lower amount or seeking an appeal. Another issue will be the ratio of compensatory to any punitive damages. The Supreme Court has previously struck down the awarding of punitive damages to citizens suing companies as unconstitutional. These cases like Gore v. BMW involved punitive damages greater than a 10 to 1 ratio to compensatory damages. They were found to run afoul of due process. In the Gore decision, the court wrote that “the most important indicium of the reasonableness of a punitive damages award is the degree of reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct.” Gore, 517 U.S. at 575, 116 S.Ct. at 1599. “This principle reflects the accepted view that some wrongs are more blameworthy than others.” Id.
Notably, this is not Moore’s first major award according to his bio. He has had 85 verdicts in excess of $1 million and in 2012 he secured a $121 million award.
Moore is a graduate of Catholic University, Washington, D.C., with an S.T.L. degree in 1968 and from Fordham Law School in 1972, with a J.D. degree.
Source: NY Post