Steve Schwegman Obtains Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Suit

November 6, 2014 06:32 PM

IADC member Steve Schwegman, of Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., obtained a defense verdict in a medical malpractice suit on behalf of a general surgeon. The patient alleged deviations from the standard of care arising out of the alleged failure to properly perform a Nissen Fundoplication. 

The patient was seen by the surgeon for persistent gastroesophageal reflux disease with stabbing abdominal pain radiating to the back with dysphagia. The patient had undergone two prior open Nissen Fundoplication procedures (in which the fundus of the stomach is wrapped completely around the lower end of the esophagus). She also had a hiatus hernia for which no mention of repair was made. Extensive testing was performed. The imaging and testing revealed persistent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with no distortion or narrowing suggestive of an intact fundoplication. An EGD noted a large hiatal hernia. The surgeon performed the redo Nissen procedure but post-operatively the patient developed a leak. As a result, she had a long, complicated pattern of hospitalizations and numerous surgical interventions were necessary. She was seen at the Mayo Clinic and they ultimately removed her stomach and placed her on a permanent feeding tube.

Plaintiffs retained several expert witnesses, including a Life Care Planner, general surgeon,  thoracic and robotic surgeon; a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and an economist. They also called as a witness the general surgeon and treating physician at the Mayo Clinic who removed her stomach and performed numerous subsequent surgeries. The defense retained a general surgeon as well as a cardio-thoracic surgeon to testify regarding standard of care, causation, and damages. Plaintiff’s medical expenses exceeded $1.6 million. The Life Care Planner retained by Plaintiff developed two “plans” for future care, treatment and medications – one plan assumed $204,000 annual medical expenses for a total of  $7.5 million over her lifetime. Plan “B” assumed plaintiff would remain on TPN feedings for the rest of her life, resulting in an annual cost of $359,633 or $13 million over her lifetime.

Pre-trial demand was $8 million. No offers were made. After a seven day trial, the case was submitted to the jury. Plaintiffs requested a verdict in excess of $46 million. The jury returned a verdict concluding the surgeon  was not negligent in his care and treatment of the patient. They were not required to answer the damages questions.

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