O.J. McDuffie Malpractice Verdict Overturned

The $11.5 million medical malpractice verdict won against a Miami orthopedist this spring, by former Dolphins receiver O.J. McDuffie, has been overturned.

At trial, McDuffie testified that the doctor never told him that he had completely ruptured the ligaments in his toe, as evidenced by MRIs performed in subsequent weeks. In fact, McDuffie told the jury that the doctor encouraged him to continue to practice and play.

So, the crux of this malpractice lawsuit is that McDuffie continued to practice and play with ruptured ligaments, which caused irreversible joint surface damage even after his doctor knew or should have known that he was causing further injury by continuing to play with the injury. It is not a surprise to see a malpractice verdict disturbed. What is surprising is when the trial judge grants a new trial for his own error on an evidentiary issue that would likely be an abuse of discretion question on appeal: whether the use of a medical manual as evidence at trial was appropriate. The judge apparently agreed that it was relevant and then reversed himself and ordered a new trial.

I don’t know the facts and how this “medical manual” was used. Hopefully, someone will offer more details with the nuances of how this medical manual was used and why the court did a 180 degree reversal and determined its use at trial was inappropriate.