Saying he had made a "misinformed" decision, a federal judge slashed from $1 million to $150,000 his "egregiously excessive" award to the three children of a man who died from an infection after a gastric bypass operation. Reconsidering the evidence presented to him during last year's seven-day bench trial in Jupiter v. United States, 05-cv-4449, Eastern District Judge I. Leo Glasser (See Profile) noted that only 31 pages of the children's direct testimony concerned the effect that Warren Jupiter Jr.'s death had on them.
Jupiter was 54 when he died in December 2005, 2 1/2 years after bypass surgery on the once 550-pound man at a V.A. hospital in Queens. Jupiter's three children were 21, 19 and 16 when he died and the testimony reflected that he had verbally abused one of his sons and failed at times to provide them with financial support.
Glasser noted that testimony also indicated that Jupiter's relationship seemed to have improved with his children in the long hospitalization between his surgery and his death.
"That testimony may justifiably warrant the prediction that had Jupiter survived his operation and at long last been freed from the myriad social, economic, emotional and personal disadvantages and embarrassments obesity most surely imposed…his children would have enjoyed the guidance and parental nurture and succor of which they were deprived by his wrongful death," Glasser wrote.
But the judge said it is fairly clear that leading up to his operation, Jupiter "provided little…nurture and guidance" to his children and that the other cases cited by the attorneys were of "little, if any, value" as he considered whether his $1 million award was proper.
Glasser noted the words of Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken."
"I have thought and I was mistaken," Glasser wrote.
He did not disturb the $5 million award he made to Jupiter's widow, Barbara. Steven North of Manhattan represented the Jupiters. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevan Cleary, Keisha-Ann Gray and Richard Hayes represented the government.