In <em><a href="http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a4977-13.pdf">Ok Choi v. McGHW Foods</a>, </em>the plaintiffs appealed after receiving a low damages award from a jury. The plaintiffs claimed that the trial judge made an incorrect evidentiary decision, which required a new trial.
The plaintiff was injured at McDonalds when a chair she was sitting on broke, causing her to fall to the ground. At the hospital plaintiff was initially only diagnosed with contusions, but after seeking further medical treatment she was eventually diagnosed with a torn meniscus and partially torn rotator cuff. At trial, the judge admitted into evidence the diagnosis of “contusions” in the plaintiff’s hospital records. The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $8,500.
Plaintiff filed an appeal, arguing, among other things, that the court erred by permitting the admission of the diagnosis in the plaintiff’s hospital records. Plaintiff argued that the medical records were inadmissible hearsay. The Appellate Court disagreed, finding that the hospital records included a straightforward observation rather than a complex medical opinion that required cross-examination. Ultimately, the Appellate Court upheld the findings made at trial.
The <em>OK Choi </em>case reveals that it is possible to admit straightforward medical records into evidence without requiring the author of the records to appear at trial to testify. This finding is helpful to defendants because it may allow them to introduce helpful evidence at trial without the cost and expense associated with locating the examining physician and requiring their appearance at trial.
Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.