In a medical malpractice trial over the death of a television sports director, Scott Bailey convincingly connects the dots of his case, while connecting with the jury, to clear an Atlanta-area physician.
Tom Cox, 61, died of a heart attack in 2010, days after he had seen Dr. Arezou Fatimi, complaining of nausea, neck pain and night sweats, among other symptoms. Cox’s wife claimed Fatimi misdiagnosed Cox, a Turner Sports director, with a virus rather than acute coronary syndrome, a condition she claimed led to his fatal heart attack.
Bailey, of Atlanta’s Huff Powell Bailey, represented Fatimi in the 2017 trial. He contended Cox did not have ACS when the doctor saw him, and her examination was thorough and appropriate.
Keys to the case were Cox’s lack of “classic” heart-related symptoms when he saw Fatemi, against the fact that Cox suffered a heart attack only days after he saw the doctor
At the conclusion of the seven-day trial, Bailey walks the jury through the same "What This Case Is About" display he used in openings, reinforcing those key elements in jurors' minds. But importantly, Bailey adds personal details of his own life during his closing to develop a better rapport with the jury.
“One of the things I like about my job is [that] I do get to hear about what happens to people,” Bailey tells jurors early in his argument. “This is what I like to do, because I get to hear about what happens in people’s lives, the good and the bad. And my goodness, this is bad,” Bailey adds before detailing how he and Cox were alike in many ways— both working in television at some point in their careers, Bailey’s children being the same age Cox’s children when he died.
“I can’t imagine what that would be like, and what they’ve been through,” he says. “I feel it every time I have a case like this. We all feel that. But the law says there’s no place for that in [your] deliberations.”
The argument goes farther than simply reminding jurors to set sympathy aside; it allows them to see Bailey as someone beyond simply an advocate in this particular case.
Bailey reinforces that connection throughout his closing, delivering anecdotes of his two decade-plus career before detailing each of the keys that make up his case.
“This case is simply about an office evaluation of a patient presenting with normal vital signs and symptoms entirely consistent with a viral illness,” Bailey tells jurors, laying out a simple, straightforward theme that each piece of evidence builds on.
And to support that argument, Bailey reminds jurors of Cox’s symptoms when he saw Fatemi. “You can take labs and you can ask the smartest people in the country, but you cannot get away from common sense," Bailey says, detailing Fatemi's thorough workup and comparing Cox's symptoms, commonly associated with a virus, to the classic symptoms of coronary problems.
Perhaps most importantly, his outline also deftly handles what Bailey told CVN after the trial was a key problem for the defense: the short period of time between Fatemi’s examination and Cox’s heart attack.
“Unfortunately it is about an unexpected and unpredictable heart attack just five days [after Fatemi’s exam],” Bailey tells jurors. “And I’m going to come back to that because that’s something that sort of bothered me about this case, to be honest.”
By phrasing the issue that way, telling jurors that the time gap “bothered” him, Bailey places himself in the jury box for a moment, as someone questioning key pieces of evidence. That simple acknowledgment likely helps lend weight in the jurors' minds to his ultimate argument on the issue—that “correlation does not equal causation."
Bailey’s skillful closing helped clear Fatemi in the seven-figure trial.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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