23 Lawyers Share The Most Challenging Medical Lawsuits They Won
Why is life so unfair? Why do people get sick? Why are there children born with incurable diseases? There are a lot of possible causes, like processed food, pollution or genetic inheritance but we still haven’t found the right answer to why bad things happen to good people. We may never know. In the meantime, we strive to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure that we avoid getting sick as long as possible. But life doesn’t always work like this.
That’s why, when we notice that we don’t feel well, we turn to the miracle of modern science and we rely on our doctors to take care of us. As patients, we trust our lives in the hands of our doctors. In most of the cases, everything goes well. Treatment, therapy, surgery – we follow everything that the good doctor advises us.
But sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t go as planned. Errors happen. A painter can paint a wall purple instead of blue, a hairstylist can cut the hair shorter than he should and none of these mistakes will have a big impact on our lives. But when doctors make mistakes people’s life are at stake.
If your health issues have been aggravated or ignored by the medical staff that treated you or if you or someone you love are or have been in danger due to medical negligence, then speak up. Consult an attorney to find out how you can pursue legal actions. I know it can be scary because sometimes the damages can’t be undone but you must find the courage to stand up and defend your rights.
We want to inspire you and show you that is possible to fight against hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and win. That is why we partnered with freelance writer Minuca Elena and asked her to reach out to 23 top lawyers and asked them:
What Was The Most Unusual Or Challenging Medical Lawsuit That You Ever Won And What Would You Advise Patients In A Similar Situation?
We receive amazing stories that you can read in the post bellow.
Jesse M. Reiter – Reiter & Walsh
Jesse Reiter works at Reiter & Walsh, P.C., where their lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience. They focus solely on medical malpractice and birth injury cases. U.S. News ranked them as one of the top law firms in the U.S.
One of the exceptional cases Reiter & Walsh, PC has litigated involved the overuse of the drug Cytotec for off-label induction of labor. The mother had a fairly uneventful pregnancy. She was sent to the hospital for induction due to gestational diabetes and the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck; the doctors chose to induce her through the off-label use of Cytotec, a drug typically used for treating ulcers.
Standing orders clearly stated to discontinue the use of Cytotec once active labor began. The doctors not only failed to discontinue the Cytotec, but they gave her a second dose once active labor had already started. Fetal monitoring showed the baby’s heartrate being compromised after less than an hour and a half of the first dose, with non-reassuring signs continuing for hours afterward.
Three hours after the first dose, with the fetal monitor showing concerning signs, the doctor ignored standing orders, provided the second dose of Cytotec, and the baby’s heart rate progressively worsened. Several hours later, the baby’s heart rate started showing signs of severe oxygen deprivation, and medical staff did not document any interventions up until delivery – no oxygen, no IV fluids, no change in maternal position.
More than seven hours later, after the ineffective administration of terbutaline to try to slow labor contractions, medical staff still didn’t step in to deliver the baby. The baby suffered brain damage from the negligent administration of Cytotec (which caused uterine contractions to be too close together) and an urgent forcep delivery (which could have been avoided had the physician not administered excessive Cytotec).
As a result of 9.5 hours of Cytotec-induced excessive contractions, the baby was born with severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and multiple brain bleeds, resulting in intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and a need for 24-hour around-the-clock care.
Patients should be fully informed of the risks and benefits of any medications prescribed to them, as well as any treatment options they are offered. Patients can ask questions regarding the specific benefits and potential drawbacks of any interventions their medical staff suggest, but – ultimately – it is the doctor’s responsibility to notify their patients about potential risks.
Bo Bruner – Belt & Bruner, P.C.
Bo Bruner is a partner at Belt & Bruner in Alabama who has handled some significant medical cases with multi-million dollar recoveries, including cases involving dangerous medication side effects.
I once handled a lawsuit where a woman lost her arms, legs and part of her face because of a reaction she had to a flu-shot. The flu-shot manufacturer had warned about this particular reaction in the prescribing instructions it distributed along with the shots to doctors in Europe but disclaimed it in the American version of those same instructions. The American instructions — lacking the warning about this potential reaction — were FDA-approved.
Unfortunately, many doctors and patients believe that FDA-approved warnings and instructions are infallible. The truth is the FDA cannot keep up with what is going on with every drug all the time and therefore relies on the drug manufacturers to help keep up with the side effects and adverse reactions its users are experiencing.
The problem is that every warning a drug company places in those instructions translate to fewer sales, therefore drug companies have an incentive to not change the information they give doctors or to delay doing so for as long as possible. Not only does this leave doctors in the dark in deciding to prescribe a drug, it also means they may not recognize a causal relation when it happens.
For this reason, it is important that a patient who believes a drug may have caused them serious injury to not simply stop their inquiry because their doctor does not think there is a connection. In this scenario doctors are much like their patients; they do not know what they do not know.
Christopher J. Gansen – Gansen Law Group, P.C.
Christopher Gansen has been involved in trial practice since 2001. He has been involved in numerous large cases tried to verdict, winning more than $50 million for people who otherwise might not have received their chance at justice.
I have handled several of these cases, including side effects from OTC drugs, prescription drugs, and even workout supplements.
The most unusual one I’ve handled personally is currently pending: we are alleging a young man bought a workout supplement containing a so-called “prohormone,” which is basically just a designer steroid.
In 2014, between the time Congress moved to ban these drugs and before that bill was passed and signed into law, he took only a few of the pills and wound up at USC Hospital with liver failure. He was warned the drug could be hard on his liver by the salesperson, who also sold him another supplement called “Liver Armor” that was supposed to help.
Obviously, it didn’t. These drugs have since been reformulated—in some cases, with what still seems to be pretty dangerous ingredients—and are still on sale by a lot of the same sellers today.
I would advise anyone considering taking supplements like this to get educated about what they’re taking as well as potential side effects and to see a doctor immediately if they experience some new symptom after starting them.
Mark E. Defossez – The Donahey Law Firm
Mark has been in litigation practice for over 24 years. He represents clients in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases arising out of medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, industrial accidents, dangerous products, and other cases of serious injury or death.
We won a jury verdict in a case in which a woman was placed on a pain medication (Celebrex) for a period of 4 years. At the end of that time frame, she was diagnosed with kidney failure requiring a kidney transplant (which, thankfully, she received).
Our independent expert medical witness was of the opinion that Celebrex restricted blood flow to her kidneys, thereby causing kidney damage. Our advice: always seek a second or a third opinion.
Tom Kiley – Kiley Law Group, LLC
Thomas Kiley is the founder and senior partner in one of the top Massachusetts personal injury law firms, Kiley Law Group, LLC, whose roots can be traced back to Thomas M. Kiley & Associates, P.C., which he founded in 1982.
This case involved a complex medical negligence action that began when our client, a 42-year-old woman at the time, experienced a sudden terrible headache while hanging wallpaper at her home. She was taken by ambulance to an area hospital and within 15 minutes of being examined by the doctor she was paralyzed and in a coma, which she would not emerge from for 15 months.
Our client had suffered catastrophic and irreversible brain damage as a result of an unnecessary and inappropriate diagnostic procedure – a lumbar puncture. Her symptoms when she arrived at the hospital indicated she had suffered a brain hemorrhage, the standard procedure for which would have been to have the patient undergo a CAT scan to determine the location of the bleeding.
Plaintiff’s experts who testified at the trial explained that a CAT scan is the preferred diagnostic tool in this instance because it is a non-invasive procedure, unlike a lumbar puncture. The danger of the lumbar puncture is that if the hemorrhage is the intracerebral type, the pressure caused by the puncture could crush the brain stem, which is exactly what happened to our client.
As a result of this doctor’s negligence, our client was left unable to speak and paralyzed, except for the ability to lift one of her arms. The jury verdict with interest totaled $10 million for our client and her husband.
Advice for patients in similar situations:
1. The client’s husband, a college-educated engineer who accompanied his wife to the emergency room, did not have the presence of mind to ask the doctor about the lumbar puncture and the risks associated with placing a needle in his wife’s spinal canal.
2. The doctor would have been obligated to inform him about the risk of brainstem herniation associated with the lumbar puncture if his wife had an intracerebral bleed, which in this case she did.
3. If the husband had asked the right questions and understood the potential catastrophic risks as opposed to a non-invasive, risk-free CAT scan, the choice would have been obvious and his wife would have had a much better outcome that would have perhaps only involved some speech difficulty and fine motor deficits.
4. The takeaway is not to be a passive patient, to be skeptical, and to ask probing questions of the medical provider.
Jonathan S. Dennis – The Dennis Law Group
Jonathan S. Dennis is the managing partner of the trial law firm Dennis Law Group. Prior to founding the firm, Mr. Dennis worked at two highly respected litigation firms in Southern California. Having handled hundreds of cases on both the plaintiff and defense sides, Mr. Dennis’s practice is unique and well-rounded and built on success.
The most difficult element to overcome in any medical malpractice case is that of causation, meaning even if the doctor admits s/he fell below the standard of care, can you prove that her/his bad act caused your damages. Recently I tried a case involving an eighty-five-year-old man who walked into a hospital for a routine pancreatic stone removal procedure and left in a wheelchair.
We were successful in securing a $1.2MM verdict for our client, not because the doctor failed to perform the procedure properly (which he did), but because the doctor failed to warn our client of the potential risks and complications of the procedure.
The causation element was met when our client testified that had he known about the potential risks, he would have never have gone through with the procedure. Before making any decisions on your medical care, always ask about all potential risks and complications and weigh them carefully with the expected benefits.
Mark Kaire – Kaire & Heffernan, LLC
Mark Kaire has practiced as a personal injury lawyer in Miami for many years. In 1997, he founded Kaire & Heffernan, LLC — a law firm dedicated to providing tenacious, aggressive and devoted service to each client.
Often times, the most challenging part of a medical malpractice claim is trying to figure out what happened, this is especially true for clients that are brain damaged
The most challenging case I had was that involving a 40-year-old man who presented to the hospital on 2 separate occasions with flu-like symptoms, and a family history of his son having been diagnosed with swine flu. This was during the swine flu epidemic.
The hospital discharged the patient without giving him Tami-flu. 5 days later he was very sick. He was hospitalized, intubated, and remained unresponsive. Our theory was that the hospital/ER doctor fell below the standard of care by not giving Tami Flu.
However, as I looked at the literature It became apparent that our client did not meet the guidelines for administration of Tami-Flu. His only risk factor was that he was obese, but that was not enough to warrant the administration of Tami Flu as per the CDC guidelines.
As I continued to look at the medical records I noticed that our client had an “event” while at the hospital that resulted in a code blue. There was a significant delay in responding to the code. We then realized that our client had developed a Pneumothorax which let to a hypoxic event. The nurses and pulmonologist failed to plan for the pneumothorax and failed to respond in a timely fashion.
We then proved that this hypoxic event was the ultimate cause of our client’s brain injury and we settled the case for $5,000,000.00.
Ashton Dennis – WashingtonLawCenter.com
Ashton Dennis is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center with offices located in Tacoma and Seattle. He focuses on the representation of individuals and families who have suffered from medical malpractice, serious personal injury, and auto accidents.
1. Our client, H.M., suffered an on-the-job injury which required the repair of a tear in her shoulder. The surgeon misplaced an anchor during surgery by drilling the anchor into the actual shoulder joint versus the rim of the shoulder. After about a year of agony, she sought out a second opinion.
The second surgeon looked at the MRI and believed the original anchor was misplaced. H.M. underwent a revision surgery and rehabilitation, which required her to take more time off work; however, the surgery was a success. The original anchor was removed and the joint was released.
H.M. asked Ashton Dennis of Washington Law Center to pursue a medical malpractice claim. We filed suit and took the case to arbitration where she prevailed. The doctor denied all wrongdoing even though the evidence was clear. The doctor then appealed to Superior Court where a jury trial was held.
The doctor was found negligent and our client was awarded $188,000. Since the doctor made the appeal and never offered a penny to settle the case an additional payment of $150,000 was paid in attorneys fees and costs for a total recovery of $335,000.
2. *Flyte v. Summit View Clinic*
Kathryn Flyte while 27 weeks pregnant fell violently ill in the middle of the Swine Flu pandemic. Her primary care physician noted she had “chills & sweats” but did not provide her with any information regarding the current state of the pandemic nor what to look out for if her symptoms worsed.
The doctor failed to mention there was a readily available drug, Tamiflu, that was known to ameliorate some of the symptoms and severity of the Swine Flu. Unfortunately, Mrs. Flyte became iller, was taken to the emergency room and immediately fell into a coma.
Mr. Kenneth Flyte had to make the decision to have an emergency C-section so that both his wife and baby had a chance to survive. Mrs. Flyte never awoke from her coma. As baby Abbigail was born prematurely she was much more susceptible to SIDS. Baby Abbigail fell victim to a SIDS episode a couple months later.
Kenneth pursued a claim against the clinic for failure to provide informed consent. The main defense by the physician was that Kathryn did “not have a fever” when she was there. However, this evidence was outright refuted by the common sense knowledge that “chills and sweats equals a fever.
The jury awarded a total of $16.7 million to Kenneth and his son Jacob for the loss of Kathryn Flyte. This case is believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict in the county and one of the largest in the state for the yea
Kevin Adkins – Kenmore Law Group
Kevin works at Kenmore Law Group, a law firm based in Los Angeles, CA, that handles a wide variety of cases, such as car accident injuries, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bus accidents.
My most unusual or challenging medical malpractice involved allergies to a medication that the doctors should not have given my client. The story starts with my seventy-two-year-old client going to the nail salon to get his nails done. The salon used unclean instruments on his nails, causing him a severe infection. At the emergency room they gave him penicillin, causing him a life-threatening allergic reaction.
In the field of personal injury, you always want two elements:
1) clear liability
If either of these elements are missing, most attorneys will not take the case because then the case becomes too speculative. What was unique about this case was that it was missing both elements. Liability was not clear because the hospital argued that our patient never informed them of this allergy. On the ER admittance form, “do you have any allergies?” was left blank so the hospital staff (reasonably?) assumed the answer was no.
We countered that since our client spoke little English, the hospital had a duty to either get a medical interpreter for him, or perform a test on him to make sure he is not allergic. Another issue were the damages. Without injuries or damages, a personal injury case falls apart. Fortunately for our client, a family member walked in and noticed that our client is having an allergic reaction, so they quickly notified the nurses.
So fortunately, our client did not suffer life-changing injuries. So the element of damages/injuries was also missing. Even if our client had suffered injuries, no attorney would take his case because his future lost income would be very little, due to his age. But we won this case despite all these difficulties. At trial, one of the defendant’s lawyers even tried arguing that men should not be going to nail salons! I could not believe it.
My advice to victims of medical malpractice is to keep contacting different lawyers. Just because a lawyer doesn’t agree to represent you, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a case. Some lawyers are too big to care about your case, or they are just lazy and they want easy cases. Even if 10 lawyers reject your case, the 11th one might accept it.
Jonathan M. Petty – Phelan | Petty
Jonathan represents individuals who have suffered injuries and damages caused by the negligence of healthcare professionals, careless drivers and product manufacturers.He has successfully tried medical malpractice and personal injury cases to verdict in courts throughout Virginia, and has handled cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts across the country.
The most unusual medical malpractice case I won at trial involved the death of a 34-year-old mother of 3 who died during the delivery of her youngest child.
The patient clearly died from a “high block” resulting from the mistaken placement of an epidural catheter in the intrathecal space – meaning the anesthetic medications that were intended to numb her from the waist down actually mixed with her cerebrospinal fluid and effectively paralyzed her, resulting in cardiopulmonary arrest.
The case was complicated, as nearly all medical liability cases are, and involved inadequate monitoring and excessive dosage of medications by the anesthesiologist. Although it had been clear to all of the doctors involved in the patient’s care why she died, the unusual part of the case is that the defense attempted to blame her demise on an extremely rare disease that had not ever been diagnosed during the woman’s lifetime.
Based on some seemingly incidental findings on autopsy, the entire defense rested on trying to prove that the patient died from Castleman Disease – a rare cancer-like disease involving the lymph system.
The patient had no symptoms, her sudden death did not in any way resemble a death from CD, and the defense did not have any experts who studied or treated patients with CD – but the defense put the family through a week-long trial so that they could attempt to distract the jury into exonerating the doctor. Fortunately, the jury saw through the farce and returned a verdict for the family.
My advice to any patient or family member considering a lawsuit is to expect a war of attrition. Even if a patient is harmed by a doctor who wants to admit a mistake and “do the right thing,” once the insurance company is involved and hires a defense law firm, more often than not the case will march to trial.
It seems cliché but the cost is truly no concern in accomplishing the objective of denying a medical malpractice plaintiff compensation. The insurance company will hire expert after expert until they find one who will defend the indefensible or, as in my case, advance a medically unsound theory to explain a bad outcome.
Unfortunately, more often than not these tactics are effective. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know that juries are highly suspicious of people who sue doctors, and if there is any “excuse” that justifies finding in favor of the doctor, they are likely to use that excuse.
John D. Risvold – The Collins Law Firm
As a trial lawyer, John handles personal injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, toxic tort, mass tort, environmental and other catastrophic injury cases. He works exclusively for victims and consumers to ensure they get the justice they deserve.
The case I handled involved a woman in her thirties who had an emergency cesarean section surgery for the birth of her second child. The baby was born healthy and happy, but the mother was left in worse shape than when she came to the hospital.
Following the surgery, a count of the surgical equipment was done twice, and the nurses and doctors agreed that the count was correct. It was not. A surgical sponge had been left inside of the young woman, lodged in her abdomen. For several days she underwent severe pain, nausea, and vomiting.
The hospital performed several x-rays but did not discover the sponge until a third x-ray was performed, three days after her c-section. A second surgery was necessary to remove the sponge. Thankfully she did not have any permanent damage, but the experience was a harrowing and painful one.
I would advise clients that these types of events are called “never” events, and there is a reason. They are never supposed to happen. If a never event happens to you, seek you a lawyer you trust who handles medical malpractice cases. This case is a type of clear cut medical malpractice which a lawyer can help you get compensation for.
Seth Rosenberg – EMERGENT
Seth Rosenberg, partner at Emergent, represents the injured, underprivileged, and under-represented with remarkable results. A trial lawyer’s trial lawyer, he has obtained millions of dollars for clients in settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases, including products liability, vehicular negligence, medical malpractice, and wrongful death actions.
I have been fortunate in my career to successfully resolve numerous medical malpractice matters in various and unique concepts – e.g., improper placement of a central line resulting in a stroke, nursing malpractice resulting in the death of a baby, and even improper application of a caustic substance on genitalia. All of these cases were difficult due to one universal fact: medical malpractice is a remarkably challenging field of law.
The advice I would provide is at one level practical and on another level informative. Practically speaking, if you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice ask the doctor/provider/facility for all of the medical records immediately. In medical malpractice, the records literally are and figuratively speak volumes, and are essential to determining the validity of a potential action. Get those records right away.
Separately, know that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is essentially and normally one year and can be as short as six months. Talk to an attorney right away.
You should also know that it is extremely difficult to prosecute and win on even the most meritorious medical malpractice case. For instance, in 1975, the California Legislature enacted a cap on “pain and suffering” at $250,000 which has never been raised (and the California electorate recently voted down a Proposition to raise the cap). Thus, no matter how terrible the injury, that is all you can get for your pain and suffering.
While recovery of “economic” damages like lost wages and medical bills are not capped in California, you generally cannot recover your past medical bills in a lawsuit. Thus, unless the individual is a high wage earner that cannot work because of the malpractice and/or the individual will require significant future medical care not otherwise covered by insurance, the most the case will be worth is $250,000.
Due to the expense and difficulty in resolving “$250,000 cases,” most lawyers cannot take these cases, even when meritorious. Because of the caps, defendants will make victims try these cases and spend six figures for the chance to get $250,000, which makes little to no financial sense. This is the state of medical malpractice law in California.
I greatly enjoy taking and prevailing in medical malpractice cases, but like all medical malpractice attorneys, I am confined by the system and all citizens should understand the respective rules in their states.
Morris Lilienthal – Martinson and Beason, P.C.
By representing injury victims and their families Morris is eager to help others who are going through an extremely rough and scary time in their life by helping them put the pieces back together.
My client went to see her doctor and was sent to the hospital for tests and x-rays. She gets a call a few days later that they were sorry to tell her, but her testing revealed she had cancer. The client is just devastated about the news she has cancer. She then follows up with her doctor and advised she will need chemotherapy. They set up an appointment and she has a procedure to put in a chemo port for her chemotherapy.
After her procedure to put in her chemo port, the client gets a call from the doctor that there’s been a big mistake, she doesn’t have cancer. The hospital got her tests and x-rays mixed up with another patient. So, the client is flooded with emotions, she’s grateful she doesn’t have cancer and then she’s angry that she was told she had cancer and for days believed she might die and had to undergo a procedure to put in a chemo port.
Given the clear nature of their mistake, the hospital settled the claim.
Jef Henninger –The Law Offices of Jef Henninger
Jef Henninger, Esq. is the senior partner at the firm. Jef is one of the few attorneys that has represented clients in all 21 Superior Courts in New Jersey. A dedicated and tireless advocate for his clients, Jef has been battle-tested in numerous successful trials.
I have had numerous cases where clients have had prior injuries. In fact, I’m working on a case right now where a client was involved in a motorcycle accident just days after the incident that gave rise to the case that is in litigation.
So, the most challenging cases for me have been cases where someone is claiming that they were harmed in a location where they have been previously or even subsequently injured. Trying to determine if the Defendant in your case caused the injury or if the injury was caused by the prior or subsequent incident is very challenging.
Patients in similar situations need to find an attorney that isn’t looking for an easy win. There are attorneys that only take layups and as soon as things get complicated, they drop you. You need to know from the get go if this is going to be a problem and if your attorney has what it takes to handle the case.
John M. Borcia – Law Offices of John M. Borcia
John Borcia is an attorney and the managing partner of the Law Offices of John Borcia. He has been practicing law for over 25 years now.
I’d say that most medical malpractice cases are challenging because of the laws and establishing proof of negligence. With that said, I’d say the most interesting medical malpractice lawsuit was a client who had a spinal fusion surgery that was not needed.
These types of surgeries (or any surgery for that matter) are a big deal and you need to trust your doctor’s recommendations. In this case, the doctor recommended a spinal fusion surgery when it was not needed and it later caused an infection. The client was awarded a large settlement for the lawsuit against the hospital.
George Lorenzo – Lorenzo & Lorenzo
George Lorenzo is an expert in personal injury cases and has been practicing law for nearly 3 decades. He is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and is licensed to practice law in Florida and Texas.
We had a case where a dentist placed veneers on a teenager’s two front teeth for cosmetic reasons. The offending tooth had a little mark on it that no one could see, yet he decided to do a procedure that would fundamentally change both teeth. One of her front teeth was perfectly normal yet he placed a veneer on it, too. Unfortunately, the veneers would fall off randomly, sometimes when the young lady was talking, leaving two little stubs in their place. It was awful.
Lessons learned: Always take photographs before any procedure, particularly if the procedure is done for aesthetic purposes, always get a second opinion and always check your medical provider’s credentials and experience before you allow them to conduct an invasive procedure on you.
Martin L. Hoffman – Larin & Agnetti, PA., Attorneys & Counselors at Law
Martin Hoffman is a senior partner of Hoffman, Larin and Agnetti, P.A. Admitted in 1973, he is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law. Mr. Hoffman has taught law and is a prolific author; his legal encyclopedia is available online.
A number of years ago, I represented the wife of an individual on dialysis who was on a transplant list for several years. He was advised by a leading transplant institution of the availability of a kidney from a donor on life support which was a good match for him. The transplant went uneventfully, however, several months later, the recipient of the kidney developed a brain tumor and in short order passed away.
A review of medical records demonstrated that the donor kidney came from an individual who had died of a brain tumor; the death of my client’s husband was the result of a metastases of the tumor from the brain of the donor to the recipient.
The case led to a reexamination of methods of selection of donors.
The case settled before trial; the amount of the settlement is confidential by stipulation.
The lesson here is that in medical malpractice cases, there are usually relevant facts that are not readily apparent from a simple review of records. In this case, an examination of the surgical records would show that the operation went well and the patient left the operating room in good condition.
It required a second and third level examination of collateral medical records to establish that the brain tumor which was the cause of death of my client’s husband was not just an unfortunate coincidence not related to the transplant.
This is particularly important in malpractice case because (1) they are complex and (2) there is a relatively short statute of limitations (period within which an action must be filed). Where malpractice is suspected, the injured party or the survivors of the decedent should seek out a qualified legal opinion at the earliest possible time.
Lee Hoffoss – Hoffoss Devall
Lee is thoroughly steeped in his practice and is committed to helping his clients secure sizeable settlements and verdicts. While brain injuries, maritime/offshore law, and trucking accidents comprise much of his portfolio, Lee has the knowledge and resources to handle various areas of the law.
The most interesting and complex medical malpractice case I have ever handled dealt with an elderly patient who was intubated and her oxygen tube became crimped during a procedure. During a routine cleaning after a bowel movement, the patient was attended by a single CNA and rolled onto her side.
When rolled onto her side, her intubation tube became crimped and this was witnessed by the patient’s daughter. The patient suffered an anoxic brain injury and subsequently lost her life due to being incapacitated.
The acute care facility refused to acknowledge that the tube could be crimped and claimed, from the manufacturer, that the tube could not be crimped. The respiratory therapist was the key to the case when she testified that the tube was, in fact, crimped. The facility also failed to keep proper cardiac monitoring and failed to maintain the complete patient records in this regard. The case settled for an undisclosed sum.
Seth Bloom – Bloom Legal
Seth J. Bloom, Esq. is an accomplished New Orleans car accident attorney and criminal defense attorney and founder of Bloom Legal, a full-service New Orleans law firm representing clients in the areas of criminal defense, personal injury, property, and insurance law, and oil spill litigation.
If you practice in the field of medical malpractice, you’re bound to get some abnormal cases from time to time. I once had a patient whose physician had sewn up him up during a procedure and left equipment inside of him, including surgical sponges.
Doctors, when they enter medicine, are held to what’s called a “standard of care,” a notion that they that must act responsibly to avoid harming patients. Each state has its own metrics for what constitutes malpractice and are typically settled in civil courts of law.
Unfortunately, mistakes are going to be made in any profession, and that includes medicine. Medical malpractice lawyers are trained to evaluate individual cases and hold responsible physicians who are negligent. For patients who think they can hold accountable physicians who have botched procedures, I suggest they seek legal counsel.
A successful case can help you finance future corrective procedures you may need. If you feel like anything has potentially gone wrong with your procedure, don’t be afraid to get a second medical opinion to ensure that nothing is awry.
Robert Daley – Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C
Robert Daley is the Principal Attorney of Robert Peirce & Associates’ Nursing Home and Health Care Liability Group. Daley has nearly two decades of experience representing clients in legal matters related to personal injury, products liability law, toxic torts and nursing home neglect and abuse. He frequently speaks at regional and national law seminars on topics related to nursing home abuse and neglect, class action lawsuits and personal injury, among others.
Robert Daley, an attorney with Robert Peirce & Associates in Pittsburgh, PA, often works with individuals seeking justice in medical malpractice lawsuits. In his unusual story, Daley filed a claim for asbestos exposure for a client with colon cancer.
After nearly eight hours of deliberation during a severe snowstorm, the jury determined that the defendant was negligent, but also determined that his client’s colon cancer was not caused by his asbestos exposure.
As a result of the trial verdict, Daley’s client was denied recovery. Despite this setback, Daley stood by his client and filed an appeal, which resulted in a new trial being granted. Before the date of the second trial, the parties were able to successfully settle the case, making it a win for Daley and his client.
This is a unique and challenging case because while the connection between asbestos exposure and lung cancer and mesothelioma is well known, the research linking asbestos exposure with colon cancer is not as definitive. As such, the trial was hard fought on the issue of causation with both sides presenting numerous experts.
For this reason, Daley’s advice to clients is to choose a lawyer that is willing to go the extra mile. Lawyers who are committed and dedicated to finding justice for their clients, no matter how complex the case may be, will not be so quick to give up or stand down when setbacks occur.
Matthew Driggs – The Advocates
Matthew started his law firm with the objective of building a community of caring, understanding, and philanthropy that is centered around the needs of its clientele. His polished product resulted in the creation of The Advocates law firm.
A few years ago I took a very sad case where a young teenage boy developed a serious lung condition and temporarily lost most of his lung capacity. The hospital hooked this young boy up to an ECMO machine that helps oxygenate the blood. In this case, a catheter is placed directly into the main artery that pulls blood out of the body, sends it through the machine for oxygenation, then back into the body.
Unfortunately, one night just minutes after saying good night to their boy, we believe a hospital worker went in to change the sheets. Somehow the catheter was bumped and pulled out of the artery. Because of the intense blood pressure, this little boy bled to death within a few short minutes. The saddest part of this story is that the family heard the announcement of the code and then saw their boy pass away. The standard of care when moving someone hooked up to these machines requires that several people assist in any moving of the patient.
My advice is to be an advocate for your friends and family while they are in the hospital. Hospitals can be a dangerous place and because of busy staff schedules often patients don’t get the attention they need. Although it didn’t help in this situation, being there for your loved ones and helping them communicate better with the hospital staff can really make a difference.
Blakney Boggs – Smith Law Offices, LLP
An attorney with Smith Law Offices, LLP, Blakney Boggs specializes in civil rights defense, personal injury and general tort litigation. Over the years, she has successfully defended various Inland Empire municipalities, including the San Bernardino and Riverside counties, in addition to its respective cities and public employees. Ms. Boggs’ professional associations include the Riverside County Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association and the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel.
A state prisoner (the plaintiff) filed a pro se civil rights complaint, alleging that his federal constitutional rights were violated due to medical treatment that he received. He had met with his general surgeon and various physicians (the Defendants) to discuss a surgical solution to his ulcerative colitis – a chronic inflammatory disease, characterized most often by bloody diarrhea with a high long-term risk of colon cancer.
The general surgeon recommended that the plaintiff undergoes a total proctocolectomy, where his entire colon and rectum would be removed and his anus possibly sewn shut. The proctocolectomy would have been “curative” with restored life expectancy and quality of life with the risk of colon cancer eliminated. However, this operation would have left the plaintiff with a permanent ileostomy – a surgical opening in the belly through which the severed end of the small intestine is brought so that digested food can pass into a plastic bag worn on the outside of the body to collect waste.
The plaintiff did not want a permanent ileostomy and instead agreed to try an alternative which required a series of surgeries with a temporary ileostomy for diverting fecal matter through a stoma, or point of exit, in the plaintiff’s belly so that his intestinal and rectal areas could heal, with the possibility of avoiding a permanent ileostomy.
Between his second and third surgeries, the plaintiff experienced many complications, which provoked him to claim medical and deliberate indifference. He was eventually transferred to the emergency room with the threat of sepsis and it was explained to the plaintiff that an emergency surgery was a “matter of life and death.”
The J-pouch, essentially a replacement rectum, and surrounding tissue were severely damaged and the plaintiff’s colitis had progressed – resulting in the action to remove the J-pouch and instead fit the plaintiff with a permanent ileostomy. The plaintiff was alert and oriented, and appeared to give consent despite being intubated, however, he alleges that the Defendants never woke him.
The plaintiff also claimed that the surgeon never warned him that the surgeries could result in a permanent ileostomy. Whether or not this is true, a failure to advise a patient on possible outcomes of a procedure is not a matter of deliberate indifference to a plaintiff’s medical need.
The analysis concluded that although the plaintiff underwent several serious surgical operations, he offered no evidence that any Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Therefore, it was recommended by the United States Magistrate Judge that the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted and the plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment claims are dismissed with prejudice.
Callan Stein Donoghue Barrett & Singal
Callan Stein is a partner in Donoghue Barrett & Singal’s Litigation group, where he focuses on white-collar criminal defense, corporate and commercial civil litigation, healthcare litigation, professional licensing matters, and research misconduct cases.
A hospital I represented was sued by a former patient for invasion of privacy and emotional distress arising out of a case of mistaken identity. Late one night a person who was arrested for robbery was rushed to the hospital. She needed medical attention but refused to provide her name. The police arrived and asked the hospital staff if they could identify the individual.
One staff member thought he recognized the individual as a prior hospital patient and provided a name. After the patient was treated she was discharged and booked under the name that had been provided by the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital staff member was incorrect in his identification and a criminal warrant issued for the wrong person which resulted in the police arresting the wrong person.
After the mistake was recognized and rectified with the police, the hospital patient whose name had been given out (who had not committed any crime) sued the hospital for significant monetary damages alleging invasion of privacy and emotional distress for giving out her personal identifying information.
I won the case at the Motion to Dismiss stage, though, because the Judge agreed that the hospital staffer gave out the information in good faith while attempting to help an active police investigation.
Thank you so much to all the lawyers that shared their experiences with us! If you have any questions please leave a comment below and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.
As a conclusion to this post, I want you to remember a few things:
1. Always inform your doctor about all your pre-existent medical conditions, allergies, and other treatments that you are taking. Even if they don’t seem related, some drugs can interact with others in a negative way.
2. Always ask for a second opinion when you have to take a serious medical decision. Does one doctor say that you have to do a surgery? Then go to another doctor and ask again if there are no other options available. If they both agree, choose the one that inspires you with more confidence. If they disagree, go to a third doctor.
Always stay positive. You can see a glass half full or half empty. It’s your choice. Value life and cherish what you have.