September 19, 2023. The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld Senior Associate Ankur Trivedi’s defense verdict in a case that tried to a 12 person Jury in Barrow County.  The original lawsuit arose out of a rear-end collision which occurred on Oct. 30, 2019 and the plaintiff alleged over $74,000 in medical bills which she related to the collision.  At trial she presented a medical narrative which was the subject of the Plaintiff’s Appeal.

After Plaintiff sought to introduce an exhibit containing a medical narrative from her treating physician, Defendant restated his objection to the exhibit being entered into evidence based on a lack of foundation, and the trial court stated, “Plaintiff’s Exhibit I will not be admitted into evidence.” It is noteworthy that Plaintiff  did not object to the trial court’s statement or the fact that the medical narrative was not entered into evidence. Instead, counsel stated,  “[o]kay.”

As the jurors deliberated, they sent a note asking if they could see the medical narrative.  A debate ensued wherein the Court admitted it likely erred in not admitting the narrative into evidence and that while it should be admitted into evidence, it could not be re-read to the jurors, nor could they have a copy of it.

In Plaintiff’s sole enumeration of error, she claimed she was entitled to a new trial because the trial court’s misstatements of the law regarding the admissibility of the medical narrative under OCGA § 24-8-826 improperly influenced the jury and tainted the verdict.

The Court of Appeals noted that no such error was preserved by the Plaintiff at trial, but nonetheless addressed the enumeration of error holding that evidentiary rulings such as this one are subject tot he harmless error doctrine.  The Court found that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was harmed by the trial court’s alleged errors concerning the medical narrative. Even assuming that the jurors believed that they could not consider the narrative as evidence, the contents of the narrative are largely contained in Plaintiff’s medical treatment records, which were properly admitted into evidence.

The Original case Case is Hill v. Yarbrough, State Court of Barrow County CAFN 21-SV-000057

The Appellate Case is Hill v. Yarbrough, Georgia Court of Appeals A23A0645

The unreported opinion can be located here.

Read more about Senior Associate Ankur Trivedi here.