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Kothe v. Smith

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
771 F.2d 667 (1985)


Patricia Kothe (plaintiff) sued four doctors and a hospital in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for medical malpractice. The defendants included Dr. James Smith (defendant) who was represented by his malpractice insurance carrier. During a pretrial conference, Judge Sweet, who was presiding over the case, informed the parties that he expected them to conduct serious settlement negotiations and that the case should ultimately settle for $20,000 to $30,000. Judge Sweet also made it clear that he would impose sanctions on any party that settled after trial began for an amount between $20,000 and $30,000. The parties settled for $20,000 after the first day of trial. Judge Sweet levied sanctions against Dr. Smith alone. Judge Sweet based his ruling in part on a desire to punish Dr. Smith’s insurance carrier for failing to settle cases in a prompt manner. Dr. Smith appealed the sanctions.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Van Graafeiland, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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