The Third District Court of Appeal refused Wednesday to interfere with a trial court order for a new trial after a jury delivered a $10.9 million medical malpractice award to former Miami Dolphin standout O.J. McDuffie for what turned out to be a career-ending injury.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Genden threw out the verdict for improper closing arguments, improper use of a textbook during testimony and an improper inference about steroids.
Judge Richard Suarez, in a three-page opinion, said the cumulative errors were fundamental and “permeated the entire trial.” Judges Leslie Rothenberg and Kevin Emas concurred.
The court noted but did not elaborate a disqualification request by McDuffie’s attorneys, who argued Genden called a defense attorney twice in late May asking for documents without notifying them. The request was denied along with the bid for a new trial.
A jury awarded McDuffie $11.5 million against former team doctor John Uribe in May 2010, and Genden reduced the amount. McDuffie ruptured ligaments in his left big toe during a 1999 game but said he initially was not told how severe the injury was and played four more games.
Uribe “always felt he did nothing wrong,” said the doctor’s personal attorney, Stuart Z. Grossman of Grossman Roth in Coral Gables. “He’ll get another chance to prove he did nothing wrong, and this time the case is going to have to be tried fairly and honorably and within the rules.”
McDuffie’s appellate attorney, Joel Eaton of Podhurst Orseck in Miami, was not available for comment by deadline.