Trials & Litigation

Judge axes defense jury verdict in malpractice case due to conduct of insurer lawyer watching trial

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A New York judge has overturned a jury verdict for the defense in a dental malpractice case due to the conduct of a lawyer who was retained by a major insurance company to follow trial developments as a spectator in the case.

That lawyer, Scott Greenspan of Manhattan, “violated the sanctity of the jury” by engaging in behavior described by a juror as “creepy” that at least came close to “stalking,” wrote Supreme Court Judge Deborah Karalunas in a Monday order (PDF) provided by Courthouse News.

Greenspan’s claimed conduct, which included trailing jurors at lunch and videotaping them, “raises ground for suspicion that the decision was founded on something other than the evidence, and was prejudicial and likely to influence the verdict,” the judge wrote. Greenspan was retained by American International Group, more commonly known as AIG, to monitor the trial. The defendant was Small Smiles, a Syracuse dental clinic that is no longer operating.

The insurer said it expects the order by Karalunas, who oversaw the trial in the case, to be overturned on appeal.

Attorney Jim Moriarty represented plaintiffs and told Courthouse News he was thrilled with the ruling by Karalunas. “I have never seen an attorney go as far out of line as this lawyer did,” said the 40-year practitioner of Greenspan, adding: “To me it’s dumbfounding.”

The Post-Standard reviewed trial transcripts and provides excerpts of what jurors told the judge about Greenspan.

“[W]hen we would go on the elevator, he would always be there,” said one. “When we got outside, we would go to have a cigarette right out front, he’d always be standing close by. When we got back on the elevator to come up, he was always there.”

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