Spinal Cord Injury Settlement Is $1.5 Million

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Medical negligence lawsuit claims delay of surgery for spinal cord injury causes paralysis

The plaintiff had a history of a cavernous malformation in his spinal cord. He had no significant issues with his condition until 2004. On 8/27/04, the plaintiff was seen by defendant #1 with a one-week history of back pain and tingling in his abdomen and thigh. He underwent an MRI that showed spinal cord swelling. The defendant reviewed the MRI and noted that the cavernous malformation was stable when compared to the old MRI in 2000. However, defendant #1 noted concern that the mass may be active and that a new hemorrhage may be pending. Despite these findings, surgery was not planned for the plaintiff.

On 8/29/04, the plaintiff presented to the Emergency Department complaining that he was unable to feel his legs and had tingling from his chest to his feet. Within an hour of arrival, defendant neurosurgeon #2 examined the plaintiff. He noted that the plaintiff had progression of his symptoms and diagnosed the plaintiff with either a new bleed or increased swelling. However, defendant neurosurgeon #2 did not take the plaintiff to surgery or even recommend surgery. Instead he spoke with defendant #1, told him the plaintiff would be admitted and made plans for defendant #1 to evaluate the plaintiff the next day. The following morning, defendant #1 saw the plaintiff and noted that he had no strength or movement in his legs. Despite the fact that the plaintiff was in serious condition, the surgery did not take place until 2 days later – on 9/1/04. At the conclusion of the surgery, the plaintiff was paralyzed and remains in that condition today.

The plaintiff was prepared to offer expert testimony that both defendants were negligent in their failure to get the plaintiff to surgery immediately upon realizing that his condition was progressively getting worse. It was the opinion of the plaintiff’s expert that the plaintiff would not have ended up as a paraplegic had he been taken to surgery as late as the evening of 8/29/04.

The defendants were expected to present testimony that the plaintiff was the reason for the delay in surgery as he had indicated on 2 occasions that he did not wish to have the surgery and was more comfortable with a conservative approach. The defendants were further expected to present evidence that the plaintiff was already paralyzed when he arrived at the Emergency Room on 8/29/04 and that earlier surgery at that point would not have made a difference in the outcome.

The case settled for $1,500,000 two weeks prior to the start of trial. (Middlesex Superior Court)

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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