United States District Court, D. Colorado
PATRICE STEPHENSON-LICCIARDI, as legal representative of CHRISTIAN LICCIARDI, an individual, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM COOPER, an individual, STEVEN HAKE, an individual, CLAUD BAYS, an individual, and MICHAEL BONNET, an individual, Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL AND HER
OBJECTION TO AWARD OF COSTS
Brooke Jackson, United States District Judge.
moves for a new trial (ECF No. 289), arguing that the clear
weight of the evidence required a plaintiff's verdict,
and that the Court should not have admitted evidence of a
lawsuit plaintiff filed in California. ECF No. 289. The Court
has reviewed the motion, the responses (ECF Nos. 296 and 297)
and plaintiff's consolidated reply. ECF No. 301. The
motion for a new trial is denied. Plaintiff also moves for a
review of the Clerk's taxation of costs in favor of
defendant Hake, essentially an objection to that award. The
motion is granted to the extent that I have reviewed the
award but otherwise is denied.
a medical malpractice case filed on behalf of Christian
Licciardi. Plaintiff claims that on November 2, 2015, when
Christian was a student at Adams State University in Alamosa,
Colorado, he went to the emergency room at the San Luis
Valley Regional Medical Center with complaints of headache
and nausea. This was followed by additional visits on
November 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10-11 (when he was admitted to and
discharged from the hospital). During those visits he was
seen by one or more emergency room doctors, a neurologist,
and a physician's assistant; CT and MRI scans were
obtained; and radiologists, including a tele-radiologist,
read and interpreted the scans. He was also seen by a nurse
practitioner in another clinic, Valley-Wide Health Systems,
Inc., on November 9, 16 and 19, 2015. The parties dispute
whether Christian was suffering from uncomplicated sinusitis
at that time or a more serious condition.
his last visit to Valley-Wide Christian seemed to be doing
better, and on November 25, 2015 he drove to California to
visit his family during the Thanksgiving holiday. However,
while in California he experienced severe symptoms that led
to visits to the Loma Linda University Medical Center on
November 27 and 29, 2015. During his second visit he was
diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called a subdural
empyema which required emergency brain surgery. Following
that surgery Christian has been left with permanent brain
damage and severe neurological deficits.
contention was that Christian developed complicated sinusitis
in Colorado. This evolved while he was still in Colorado into
one or two intracranial abscesses, but that his illness was
misdiagnosed and mistreated. Plaintiff contended that an MRI
with contrast should have been performed, and had that
happened, his condition would have been detected and treated
such that the catastrophic consequences he ultimately
suffered would not have happened. Plaintiff further contended
that his condition worsened in California and was, again, not
initially diagnosed or treated properly. Essentially,
plaintiff's claim is that Christian suffered from a
continuum of sub-standard medical care that begin in Colorado
and continued in California. Plaintiff, initially Christian
but later his mother as his legal representative, wished to
pursue one medical negligence case against all the health
care professionals who provided substandard care, either in
Colorado or California, but the defendants in the two states
would not agree. Therefore, plaintiff filed separate lawsuits
against the local defendants in each state.
Colorado defendants denied that Christian had an empyema or
any other intracranial abscess in Colorado. They contended
that he was properly diagnosed and treated for uncomplicated
sinusitis and recovered. In California he became ill a second
time, this time an illness that quickly developed into an
intracranial abscess, and the craniotomy resulted.
Colorado case was tried to a jury September 10-14, 17-20, and
24-27, 2018. By that time the defendants had been reduced to
five: Claud Bays, M.D., a hospitalist; Michael Bonnet, P.A.,
a physician's assistant; William Cooper, M.D., a
neurologist; Steven Hake, M.D., a radiologist; and Kyle
Phillips, a nurse practitioner. The plaintiff dropped her
claim against Mr. Phillips near the end of the trial.
Ultimately, the jury rendered its verdict in favor of all
four remaining defendants. ECF No. 250 (verdict, juror names
redacted). The Court entered its Final Judgment in favor of
the defendants on October 1, 2018. ECF No. 252.
Final Judgment included an award of costs to the defendants
as the prevailing parties, to be taxed by the Clerk pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 54.1. Defendants
Bays, Bonnet and Cooper collectively submitted a proposed
bill of costs totaling $234, 412.82. ECF No. 255. The
plaintiff and defendants Bays, Bonnet and Cooper stipulated
to an award of costs to those defendants in the reduced
amount of $80, 000. ECF No. 289. The Clerk taxed costs
against the plaintiff and in favor of defendant Hake in the
amount of $77, 730.07. ECF No. 304. Plaintiff has objected,
arguing that costs cannot be taxed against a legal
representative. ECF No. 305.
district court has broad discretion in deciding whether to
grant a motion for a new trial.” Harvey by &
through Harvey v. Gen. Motors Corp., 873 F.2d 1343, 1346
(10th Cir.1989). However, it is the function of the jury, not
the court, to resolve conflicts in the evidence. Veile v.
Martinson, 258 F.3d 1180, 1190-91 (10th Cir.
2001). “If ‘a new trial motion asserts that the
jury verdict is not supported by the evidence, the verdict
must stand unless it is clearly, decidedly, or overwhelmingly
against the weight of the evidence.'” M.D.Mark,
Inc. v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 565 F.3d 753, 762
(10th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anaeme v.
Diagnostek, Inc., 164 F.3d 1275, 1284 (10th Cir.1999)
(internal quotation marks and citations in Anaeme
omitted)). The burden of proof is on the moving party.
Domann v. Vigil, 261 F.3d 980, 983 (10th Cir.2001).
The Court considers the record evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Anaeme, 164 F.3d
timely motion, the district court may review the clerk's
taxation of costs. Fed.R.Civ.P. (d)(1). The review is de
novo. See In re Williams Securities Litigation-WCG
Subclass, 558 F.3d 1144, 1147 (10th Cir.
Motion for a New Trial - Weight of the
can be no dispute that Christian Licciardi's ultimate
outcome was tragic, and that he and his family suffered a
horrendous loss. The issues were whether one or more of the
defendants provided substandard care, and if so, ...