Recently, a Queens County jury found that the visiting home care nurse of a 16 month-old child was negligent in feeding the child, and that her negligence caused the child to choke, and ultimately - and tragically - die shortly thereafter. Apparently, this small child was dependent on a tracheal tube for her oxygen supply, but when the nurse tried to feed the child, she alloweed some of the bottled formula to enter the tracheal tube, and this liquid traveled back up into the child's lungs, choking her.
Clearly, this is a tragic story. The question is, on what basis did the jury arrive at such a large number?
Although I was not privy to the jury's deliberations, and I was not present for the judge's instructions to the jury, the short answer is almost certainly this: conscious pain and suffering.
The testimony that was elicited at this trial indicated that the child suffered for 8-9 minutes before she finally died, and New York's courts have allowed large awards based on the amount of time that the decedent suffered before their death.