The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court in this medical malpractice action, determined the defendant doctor’s motion to set aside the plaintiff’s $400,000 verdict should have been granted. The trial court should not have allowed extrinsic documentary evidence on collateral matters to impeach defendant’s credibility:
“A motion pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside a verdict and for a new trial in the interest of justice encompasses errors in the trial court’s rulings on the admissibility of evidence, mistakes in the charge, misconduct, newly discovered evidence, and surprise” … . “In considering such a motion, [t]he Trial Judge must decide whether substantial justice has been done, whether it is likely that the verdict has been affected and must look to his [or her] own common sense, experience and sense of fairness rather than to precedents in arriving at a decision'” … .
Here, the Supreme Court should not have permitted the plaintiff to introduce extrinsic documentary evidence concerning collateral matters solely for the purpose of impeaching the defendant’s credibility … . In view of the importance of the defendant’s testimony and the emphasis given to the improperly admitted credibility evidence by the plaintiff’s counsel during summation, the errors were sufficiently prejudicial to warrant a new trial … . Rudle v Shifrin, 2020 NY Slip Op 02487, Second Dept 4-29-20