A young woman by the name of Karen Ann Quinlan experienced a variety of medical issues after entering into a ten-year coma from consuming a mixture of alcohol and tranquilizers. Quinlan’s parents filed a lawsuit regarding the definition of life and the right for an individual to die in 1976 (“FOCUS OF ’76 RIGHT TO DIE CASE”). Quinlan’s story loosely inspired the creation of a novel by Barry Reed to then be adapted into a film, The Verdict (Simon). The Verdict follows the story of a medical malpractice case in Boston many predicted would not be successful.
The alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin experiences a variety of hardships during the trial. From the beginning of the movie, we are given an inside look at Frank Galvin’s life as an ambulance chaser. Frank is seen scoping out obituaries in the local paper and jumping from funeral parlor to funeral parlor trying to receive cases. Frank’s routine of ambulance chasing is finally broken when an old associate, Mickey, sends Frank a medical malpractice case concerning a young woman now on a respirator due to complications during childbirth.
Frank quickly becomes emotionally invested in the case as he begins to visit the young woman in the hospital. After turning down a large settlement, Frank begins to scramble to find expert witnesses and pull together a strong case for the young woman. It wasn’t until Frank finally located Kaitlyn Costello, a nurse formerly employed by the hospital, that things finally started looking up for the case. Kaitlyn was working on the night of the surgery and completed the paperwork prior to the young woman going under anesthesia.
The young woman consumed food approximately an hour before surgery; this timing is alarming for medical professionals due to the possible complications that come with consuming food prior to receiving an anesthetic. Once the complications began during the surgery the anesthesiologist made Costello change the 1 hour to 9 hours from the last time the individual consumed food on the form. This ultimately won the case for Frank’s clients, in fact, the jury awarded more money than requested to the family of the victim. The movie shared an interesting component of law that is commonly overlooked.
When an average individual thinks about legal issues brought to court a variety of cases may come to thought such as, divorce, custody, and an assortment of criminal cases. However, cases following negligence in medical malpractice do influence individuals in society and are extremely interesting to follow. The case in The Verdict was intriguing due to the emotional connection the viewer feels from the beginning. Debra Ann’s, the young woman from the case explained prior, family is seeking the only attainable comfort for them in this scenario.
Although Debra Ann’s medical record was not improving, the family wanted to hold those accountable for the damage they have done. The pure emotion from the sister, as well as, the emotion we quickly see in lawyer Frank Galvin brings attention to how personal medical malpractice cases can be. Ultimately, Debra Ann’s current state could have been prevented if the anesthesiologist held himself to the appropriate medical standard. The movie’s ability to depict emotions that are commonly felt during medical malpractice cases was extremely successful and impressive.
The movie was engaging and made you feel as if Debra Ann was an individual you may have known personally. In addition, the underdog story of the lawyer, Frank Galvin, made me want to root for him throughout the case. Frank was told from many individuals that he made a mistake taking on this case, or that he should have settled for the money presented from the bishop, however his perseverance made me feel that I ultimately wanted him to succeed and prove those individuals wrong. Although the movie was successful in generating emotions, I was not fond of the ay the hospital and the staff of the hospital were shown in the movie.
I was first shocked to say the least regarding the operations of the hospital. I felt it was not realistic in the scene that the lawyer was able to walk into Debra Ann’s hospital room without security, in addition, when the nurses walked by they calmly asked the lawyer to leave. In a room where multiple individuals were housed, I found it hard to believe the security of the hospital would be this minimal. The way the hospital scenes were directed biased the viewer to automatically see the hospital as the “evil” party.
The film would have been more captivating if the movie was not written this way, instead, if the viewer was conflicted on which side to believe. The film mirrored many processes in which we have discussed in class. First off, the case had a cause of action allowing it to be brought to trial. The trial was held in a trial court in front of a jury and the disposition was made in that court level. In addition, the actions taken within the trial are extremely similar to those we have discussed during class.
This includes the issues we discussed when briefly examining negligence and medical malpractice cases. The defense used by the defense lawyer was assumption of risk due to the fact the individual knew that having any medical surgery has the potential for something to go wrong or have additional medical repercussions. The search for witnesses also depicted what I believe to be true regarding legal issues. Frank Galvin was searching for an expert witness to provide the medical background and expertise, while also searching for a witness who was employed and working during the night of the surgery.
The facts presented by both witnesses were crucial to the case, this is the reason why Galvin made an immense effort to locate and secure these two witnesses. The movie says both positive and negative things regarding the legal system. The ability a party holds to seek damages for a case in which has affected their day-to-day life shows the positives of the legal system. In addition, the level of accountability an individual in the medical field is held to regarding medical malpractice and neglect was positively reflected in the disposition concluding the film.
However, some negative aspects or downfalls The Verdict shows regarding the legal system is the difficulty to form a strong case, as well as, the difficulty to successfully bring to stand witnesses to help the case. During the movie, we see Frank Galvin search for two separate witnesses, one being an expert witness and the other a past nurse for the hospital. When trying to reach out to the expert witness, Galvin quickly learns this individual is no longer in town, therefore he settles for Dr. Thompson as a substitute expert witness.
Initially, I was happy for this outcome, the viewer felt a sense of accomplishment by locating another witness. However, upon entering the court Dr. Thompson becomes of no help to Frank Galvin as both the defense attorney and judge tear his statement apart. In addition, finding and having the former nurse sit as a witness was extremely difficult for Galvin to secure, she had a variety of emotions towards her former position including fear. Another negative side of the law revealed is when Frank Galvin’s love interest Laura is found to have been receiving checks from the defense to spy on the plaintiff.
Although I am unsure if this plot is for pure dramatization of the case or if this happens regularly, this brought to light a dark and disappointing side to law. If work such as the spying Laura was being paid to complete during the case happens frequently in the real legal system, can we undoubtedly say the system is fair for all individuals engaged? The Verdict was an extremely captivating movie showing the struggle of a Boston lawyer hoping to win a medical malpractice case for a grieving family.
Overall, the movie brought to light many legitimate issues and successes in the legal system while still providing an entertaining story for viewers to enjoy. The family received more than they were hoping to collect to finally bring closure to the heartbreaking case of their loved family member, Debra Ann. Although the condition Debra Ann is currently experiencing is not ideal, the individuals responsible for the coma are now being held accountable. In the medical malpractice case displayed in the movie The Verdict, justice was provided to the family of the victim.