Laney v. VanceAnnotate this Case
Martin Vance filed a medical-malpractice/wrongful-death action on behalf of Mamie Vance Hemphill, alleging that Dr. Charles H. Laney was negligent in his treatment of the decedent, Hemphill. Vance initially sued other medical providers, but all but Dr. Laney were dismissed. Trial was held; Dr. Laney was the sole defendant. The jury returned a verdict of $1,000,000 to Vance. In response, Dr. Laney filed this appeal, presenting three issues to the Supreme Court: (1) whether the trial court erred in remitting plaintiff's economic damage award to $103,688 when the substantial weight of the evidence proved that the award should have been zero; (2) whether the trial court erred in its jury instructions; and, (3) whether plaintiff's counsel made inappropriate comments, and, when taken with the erroneous jury instructions, should have warranted Dr. Laney a new trial. Because the trial judge committed reversible error in instructing the jury that they
could consider the "value of life" of the deceased in awarding damages, and because counsel for Vance made improper and prejudicial comments to the jury during closing arguments, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.