Saxton & Stump Litigators Secure Defense Verdict in a Case Involving Fatal Postoperative Complications Following Surgery
We represented an oncology surgeon in a medical malpractice action arising from the death of 62-year-old who developed fatal postoperative complications following a complex surgery for cancer in the head of the pancreas. Plaintiff claimed that the surgery was contraindicated due to decedent’s co-morbidities. Plaintiff further contends that the tumor was of the type that could have been treated with a less invasive procedure. Defendants demonstrated that the surgeon provided the only treatment that would offer decedent a chance for cure for his cancer. Defendants further demonstrated that decedent had a very poor prognosis and without the surgery the decedent’s life expectancy was substantially reduced.
Saxton & Stump Litigators Obtain a Defense Verdict in a Wrongful Death and Survival Action
We represented a hospital in a case arising from the unexpected death of 24-year-old from a fatal arrhythmia in the Emergency Department. Upon presentation to the ED, the patient complained of leg weakness and inability to urinate. He later complained of chest pain. Patient’s EKG showed wide complex tachycardia. Plaintiff claimed that based on the EKG, the ED attending should have diagnosed ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach) and administered anti-arrhythmics. Plaintiff further claimed that there was a delay in shocking after the patient went into cardiac arrest. Over the course of a four-day trial, Defendants demonstrated that it was reasonable for the ED attending to consider possibilities for the wide complex tachycardia other than V-Tach given the patient’s presentation and lack of relevant medical history. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the code was run properly. The jury returned a defense verdict.
Saxton & Stump Litigators Secure Defense Verdict in Six-Day Trial in a Case Involving an Alleged Anoxic Brain Injury after a Liver Biopsy
We represented a gastroenterologist, his practice, and a hospital in a case involving an alleged delay in responding to a complication following a liver biopsy under conscious sedation (Versed). The Plaintiff claimed that this delay resulted in an ischemic stroke and permanent neurologic damage due to a prolonged state of hypoperfusion, bradycardia, and heart block. By reconstructing and presenting to the jury a detailed chronology of the event, and with the assistance of qualified experts, we showed that the Plaintiff’s timeline was infeasible and that, to the contrary, our providers provided timely, appropriate and life-saving measures. Within 1 hour of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
Saxton & Stump Litigators Obtain Defense Verdict in a Case involving a Hysterectomy Secondary to Rare Gynecological Condition
We represented a hospital and its nurses in a case involving an abdominal supracervical hysterectomy that the 25-year old Plaintiff, who gave birth less than two weeks earlier, contended was a result of a delay in diagnosing and treating significant post-partum bleeding caused by retained products of conception. Our litigators were able to show that the Plaintiff did not have retained products of conception at all and, instead, had subinvolution, an extremely rare gynecological condition. As with many of our cases, this case in particular highlighted the need for our team to think outside of the box and assess alternative medical causes for a patient’s condition. Following a two week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
Trial Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict in a Case Involving an Alleged Anoxic Brain Injury
We represented an attending emergency department physician and practice group in a case involving alleged chronic neurological and cognitive injuries secondary to an episode of transient respiratory distress related to a reaction to medication. Plaintiff characterized the treatment provided by our clients, which she contended included an excessive amount of narcotic analgesics and benzodiazepines, as “horrendous” and “life threatening.” We, on the other hand, characterized our client’s treatment decisions as entirely reasonable. Ultimately, the jury agreed with our litigators’ view of the facts and returned a verdict in favor of our clients in all respects.
Ten-Day Trial Results in Defense Verdict for Neurosurgeons in Case Involving 55-Year-Old Man with Catastrophic Impairments Following Surgery
In this case, our litigators represented four neurosurgeons who were sued for their post-operative management of a cervical spine surgery patient. Unfortunately, at 55-years of age, the Plaintiff became paraplegic in the months following surgery and also allegedly developed spastic quadriplegia. At the time of trial, Plaintiff, who was essentially bed-bound in a nursing home, projected several millions of dollars of future medical needs. In response, we successfully presented evidence that there were no indications for further surgery post-operatively, and that his permanent disabilities were not caused by the neurosurgeons as alleged. Following deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict for our clients.
Saxton & Stump Litigators Obtain Defense Verdict for Anesthesiologist and Hospital in a Case Involving a Disabling Stroke and Permanent Neurological Impairment
We represented an anesthesiologist in a case involving allegations that negligent post-operative management contributed to a middle-aged man suffering a debilitating stroke. In short, Plaintiff claimed the anesthesiologist prematurely extubated and failed to timely reintubate prior to him suffering a stroke. During the course of litigation, we were able to show that the post-operative care was appropriate and his clinical course and symptoms were inconsistent with a compromised airway. Ultimately, a defense verdict was entered for the anesthesiologist, her practice and the hospital.
Trial Attorney Obtains Defense Verdict for Neurosurgeon in Case Involving Allegations of Disabling Neurologic Injury and Need for Further Spine Fusions
We represented a neurosurgeon in a case involving a lumbar spine fusion, in which Plaintiffs claimed the neurosurgeon inappropriately angled the surgical screws resulting in poor purchase and the need for a surgical revision. Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our team established that the neurosurgeon used cortical screws rather than traditional pedicle screws, and that the angulation was appropriate for this technique. In fact, we argued that the cortical screw trajectory was a more advanced technique resulting in stronger screw purchase. As a result, a defense verdict was returned on behalf of the neurosurgeon and his practice.
Jury Awards Defense Verdict for Primary Care Provider in a Case Involving a Disabling Medication Side Effect
Our trial attorneys represented a primary care provider who treated a patient with chronic asthma and questionable COPD, for acute respiratory complaints. The physician prescribed a course of Levaquin, and a corticosteroid to prevent against bacterial pneumonia. Unfortunately, the patient suffered bilateral Achilles tendon ruptures, which resulted in an inability to walk without assistance. At trial, we established that the treatment decision was reasonable, despite Levaquin having a FDA Black Box warning, based on an appropriate clinical assessment by a physician who knew his patient well and knew what had worked in the past. In part, our team explained that the risk of undertreating Plaintiff’s infection outweighed the chance of Achilles tendon rupture, a rare and unpredictable side effect. The jury returned a unanimous verdict that the physician was not negligent.
Following a Six-Day Trial, Saxton & Stump Litigator Secures Defense Verdict in a Pathology Case Involving Alleged Unnecessary Surgery
We represented a pathologist/cytopathologist who interpreted a fine needle aspirate from a mass on Plaintiff’s neck as a malignant keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma. Following a modified radical neck dissection, the surgical pathology revealed the mass to be a benign branchial cleft cyst. Plaintiff claims that because of the incorrect classification of the biopsy, he underwent an unnecessary tongue biopsy, tonsillectomy and neck dissection, resulting in permanent physical limitations, disfigurement and loss of life’s pleasures. At trial, we established the cellular characteristics supported a diagnosis of malignant. The Defense further argued Plaintiff did not produce competent evidence that Plaintiff would not have had the surgery, and that excision of the mass would have been required in any eventuality. Within a few hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict finding no negligence and confirming that our client’s interpretation was within the standard of care.
Trial Team Awarded Defense Verdict in a Case in which Plaintiff Claimed He Required Leg Amputation Due to a Failure to Treat an Arterial Occlusion following One-Week Trial
We represented an orthopedic surgeon in a case involving a patient who underwent a below the knee amputation in response to an arterial occlusion in her superficial femoral artery. Plaintiff claimed that our client failed to recognize symptoms that required urgent vascular intervention. To the contrary, during a five-day trial, we proved there were no clear signs of a vascular etiology during the two weeks the patient treated with our client and that the patient’s symptoms did not require urgent referral to a vascular specialist or admission to the emergency department. Ultimately, our team of litigators was able to show the orthopedic surgeon’s care was appropriate, and the jury a verdict finding he was not negligent.
Family Physician Vindicated by Jury in Case Involving Permanent Paralysis Caused by a Spinal Infection
Our litigators represented a family physician against claims that he failed to timely diagnosis and treat a paraspinal infection in a woman with underlying degenerative joint disease and a chronic compression fracture. As a result of the insidious infection, the patient became paraplegic beginning at the T-7 level. During a seven-day trial, we showed each of the alleged “red flags” of a paraspinal infection were reasonably attributable to the patient’s underlying conditions, and there were no clear signs of infection until the patient experienced neurological deficits. Additionally, we presented that the neurological deficits resulted from an inoperable and irreversible infarct of the spinal cord. After only a few hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict finding the family physician had comported with the standard of care.
Saxton & Stump Litigators Obtain Defense Verdict in a Case Involving the Death of an Infant from Infection within Thirty Hours of Delivery
We represented a hospital in a case involving a baby who developed an intrauterine E. coli infection and passed away less than thirty (30) hours after delivery. Plaintiff claimed an OB/GYN resident negligently and prematurely performed an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM) and that the attending physician failed to appropriately oversee the resident. Plaintiff argued the baby developed an infection due to the premature AROM and a prolonged labor. Our team was able to show the AROM was appropriately performed to augment labor and to place an internal fetal scalp electrode to better capturing the baby’s heart tracings. Ultimately, a defense verdict was entered on behalf of our client.
Trial Attorneys Obtain a Defense Verdict in Federal Action Alleging Negligent Nursing Care of a Post-Operative Patient Resulting in an Infection
Our team represented a hospital in defense of the nursing care provided to a Plaintiff who, following an elective left total knee replacement at a hospital, sustained a left periprosthetic femur fracture and subsequent infection. At trial, it was undisputed the Plaintiff fell while trying to bathe herself and that the fall was the proximate cause of the injuries. Thus, the only issue was whether the hospital breached the standard of care. At trial, our attorneys established the attending nurse left the plaintiff in bed to bathe herself and stepped behind a curtain for privacy and that the Plaintiff fell in the course of washing herself. The defense’s highly qualified experts opined that this practice was consistent with the standard of nursing care. Through effective trial presentation, we were able to disprove Plaintiff’s theories, and a defense verdict was entered on behalf of the hospital.
Jury Verdict Obtained in a Wrongful Death Case Involving Claims that a Cardiologist Failed to Prevent a Fatal Pulmonary Embolism by Initiating Anti-Coagulation Treatment
We represented a cardiologist in a case filed by the parents of a young woman who died from a pulmonary embolism. The decedent had presented to the hospital with chest pain, shortness of breath and tachycardia. The emergency medicine physician, who was also sued, consulted our cardiologist by phone early in the morning to discuss the patient. Our cardiologist agreed to admit the patient to his service to rule out a Non ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarction and later order a Chest CT to rule out a pulmonary embolism. Plaintiffs claimed our client should have initiated anti-coagulation treatment prior obtaining the results of a CT. Our trial team established that the risks of anti-coagulation did not outweigh the potential benefits given the low probability that the decedent was suffering PE. After six days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense.
Defense Verdict in a Vascular Surgery Case
We represented a vascular surgeon in a case involving allegations that his selection of the target artery during a lower extremity bypass of a diabetic patient was in error. The patient had at least two diabetic foot ulcerations in the year before he presented to our client for a second opinion as to wound healing. The patient also sued the general surgeon who had previously treated him. Although the graft initially showed patency, the patient, unfortunately, underwent a below the knee amputation in the month following the surgery.
During the one-week trial, we showed through our client’s testimony and the opinions of a highly credentialed vascular surgery expert that the location of patient’s ulcerations on both the lateral aspect of the fifth toe and heel required restoration of blood flow to the anterior and posterior tibial arteries to promote wound healing. Our expert effectively illustrated to the jury that Plaintiff’s contention that the bypass should have targeted only the anterior tibial artery would have failed to restore blood flow to the heel wound. We also presented a well-respected anesthesiologist to show the Plaintiff’s continued smoking materially contributed to any graft failure. After only a couple hours of deliberation, the jury returned with a finding of no negligence for both doctors.
Nonsuit in a Lap Chole Case
Plaintiff claimed that our general surgeon perforated the small bowel during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (lap chole) procedure and that the surgeon failed to timely diagnose the small bowel injury. In support of Plaintiff’s claims, Plaintiff offered a liability expert, who admitted that it is possible that even patients who have not undergone prior abdominal surgery can sustain injury to surrounding structures during a lap chole in the absence of negligence. As to causation, the expert was only willing to opine that it was “more likely than not” that the bowel perforation occurred during the general surgeon’s lap chole. Plaintiff’s expert further admitted that there may have been other causes of the small bowel injury. We successfully demonstrated that Plaintiff’s expert’s opinion fell below the required standard of proof. The judge ordered a nonsuit and entered judgment in favor of the general surgeon.
Defense Verdict in a General Surgery Case
We represented a general surgeon in a wrongful death case involving the death of a patient. Plaintiff’s primary claim was that our client failed to appreciate the signs and symptoms of a surgical abdomen and was negligent for not ordering an abdominal CT with contrast on a STAT basis. Plaintiff’s expert claimed the abdominal CT should have been performed within one to three hours of our client’s consult. The abdominal CT was performed on a routine basis approximately six hours after the consult. Through the objective medical records, we were able to show that it would have taken more than three hours for the patient to ingest the oral contrast and perform the abdominal CT even if it had been ordered STAT and so, Plaintiff’s claims lacked basis. We were also able to show that the routine abdominal CT was timely and would have allowed the surgeon sufficient time to operate. However, immediately after the abdominal CT, the patient drank a pitcher of water, which caused her to aspirate and suffer a cardiopulmonary arrest – unrelated to the condition of her abdomen. Unfortunately, after a twenty-two minute code, the patient was unable to undergo surgery. We argued the surgeon could not be held accountable for this superseding event. A defense verdict on behalf of the surgeon resulted.
Defense Verdict in an Orthopedic Surgery Case
We represented an orthopedic surgeon who was sued for having removed what he believed to be benign tissue from the patient’s knee joint during a total knee replacement. Unfortunately, upon sending the tissue to pathology for diagnosis, it was determined that the tissue was a highly aggressive cancerous tumor. As a result, the patient was forced to undergo an above-the-knee amputation. Plaintiffs argued that if the surgeon had (1) ordered an MRI prior to the knee replacement or (2) not removed the tissue in sections, the patient would have had other treatment options including limb salvage. Prior to trial, the Plaintiffs sought punitive damages claiming that the surgeon’s removal of the tissue constituted reckless conduct.
On the first day of trial, after filing an aggressive motion seeking the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claim, Plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew the punitive damages claim. During trial, Defendants called orthopedic surgery, soft tissue pathology, and orthopedic oncology experts to show that the (1) mass appeared to be nothing more than a bone spur on the pre-operative x-rays and MRI was not warranted, (2) the majority of tissue slides had smooth round edges and so the mass must have originated from inside the knee joint and (3) since the mass was in the knee joint, an above-the-knee amputation was the only treatment option. After a six day trial and relatively short deliberation, the jury found in favor of Defendants.
Defense Verdict in a Neurosurgery Case
We represented a neurosurgeon in a case involving a claim that the three level cervical fusion he performed was not indicated. Plaintiffs claimed the patient had two pre-existing congenital fusions and as a result, the cervical fusion increased instability at the C1-C2 levels. Plaintiffs further claimed that the surgery never relieved the patient’s neck and shoulder pain. We used multiple objective medical records and admissions from Plaintiff’s deposition testimony to prove that for a period of 18 months after the procedure the patient had no complaints of neck or shoulder pain, returned to work and was not taking prescription pain medications. In addition, we were able to prove that since the procedure, no neuro or orthopedic surgeon had diagnosed C1-C2 instability or recommended surgery for the same. In short, we showed that the patient improved with the procedure and any current complaints were unrelated to the neurosurgeon’s care. A defense verdict on behalf of the neurosurgeon resulted.
Defense Verdict in a Pulmonary Embolism Case
Plaintiffs claimed our cardiothoracic surgeon failed to order the appropriate deep vein thrombosis prophylactic measures, including the use of Heparin and sequential compression stockings after surgery. Plaintiffs also claimed hospital staff failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent injury from the movement of the operatively placed chest tubes when the patient ambulated. Plaintiffs claimed these failures resulted in the development of a fatal pulmonary embolism. During the course of a 10-day trial, we supported the testimony of the providers with the opinions of well-respected experts in cardiothoracic surgery, critical care medicine, diagnostic radiology, and critical care nursing and pathology. In doing so, our team was able to illuminate the flaws in Plaintiffs’ theory ultimately resulting in a defense verdict for all defendants.
Defense Verdict in a Pituitary Tumor Case
Plaintiffs claimed our neurosurgeon had performed a sublabial transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection and additional procedures to repair a cerebral spinal fluid leak (CSF) that were not indicated. Plaintiffs also claimed that none of the procedures provided any relief and that the dripping sensation was not CSF, but a mucocele. MRI images and reports were used to show the tumor had doubled in size and threatened Plaintiff’s eyesight if it was not removed. We also took Plaintiff through numerous hospital admission progress notes that reflected the patient got better and the CSF responded and improved with lumbar drainage, which proved the dripping sensation was CSF and not a mucocele. A defense verdict for the neurosurgeon and hospital system resulted.
Defense Verdict in a Cardiology Case
Plaintiff, as the Administratrix of the Estate, contended an interventional cardiologist failed to secure an adequate state of anticoagulation prior to the commencement of an intervention to the ramus intermedius branch. After the intervention was performed, a dissection occurred in the left main coronary artery. Plaintiff contended the cardiologist failed to secure coverage of the length of the dissection and failed to adequately deploy the stents covering the dissection resulting in an occluded left main artery, the necessity of placement of an intra-aortic balloon pump, and ultimately heart transplantation. Plaintiff ultimately succumbed from an infection resulting in cardio pulmonary arrest.
After a 2-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the cardiologist. The defense called experts in the fields of cardiology, hematology, cardio-thoracic surgery and physical medicine, together with the testimony of our client to counter Plaintiffs’ contentions. Through the use of cine runs obtained during the intervention, we were able to demonstrate that plaintiffs interventional cardiology expert misinterpreted the timing and location of the placement of the stents in the left main. The hematology expert was able to discredit Plaintiffs’ anti-coagulation theory by utilizing published studies showing the accepted use of fixed dose anti-thrombin administration at the commencement of the procedure and bolus anti-platelet medication administration at the conclusion of the procedure.
Defense Verdict in a GI Surgery Case
A defense verdict was obtained in a case where Plaintiff’s demand was substantial. Plaintiff claimed that our surgeons failed to diagnose twisting of the colon that ultimately resulted in the loss of the entire colon requiring a permanent ileostomy. During a 1-week trial, we successfully demonstrated that Plaintiff’s theories were incompatible with medical and scientific principles.
Victorious in Summary Judgment
The case involved a premises liability claim that was filed by a contractor that our hospital client hired to assist with electronic medical record software training. The contractor allegedly fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a severe ankle fracture, which required surgery and months of physical therapy. Plaintiffs filed suit in Federal Court and made a significant demand. Although he was not an employee, at Plaintiff’s deposition he made multiple admissions that the hospital controlled the manner of his work. Following his deposition, we filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss Plaintiffs’ lawsuit under the theory that Plaintiff was a “borrowed servant” of the hospital and so, the hospital was immune to suit under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In a well-reasoned and fully-supported opinion, the Judge agreed and dismissed Plaintiffs’ case. The Third Circuit affirmed the entry of Summary Judgement.