Surgical Error Causing Facial Droop: $1.5 Million Settlement

2012 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Facial droop results from transected facial nerve during surgery to remove benign growth

The plaintiff was born on 7/1/06 and was noted to have a fullness of the right side of her neck. The defendant surgeon was consulted and determined she had a benign growth that would need to be removed. A consulting radiologist indicated that an MRI prior to surgery would be warranted to further define and evaluate the mass. The defendant never got that MRI prior to surgery.

On 9/22 the minor plaintiff had surgery by the defendant. The operative note did not indicate that the defendant identified or protected the facial nerve during the surgery. Immediately post-operatively, the minor plaintiff was noted to have right facial droop. The defendant assured the parents of the minor plaintiff that this was just from bruising and swelling and that it would resolve.

The minor plaintiff saw the defendant on 3 occasions post-operatively. On each visit it was noted that there was a facial droop and incomplete motion of the corner of her mouth. The defendant kept assuring the parents that this was from bruising and that it would go away.

Finally, the minor plaintiff was sent for a nerve study which showed the facial nerve was not functioning at all. The minor plaintiff underwent surgery to look at the facial nerve. It was found that the facial nerve was transected during the defendant’s surgery. Attempts were made to re-connect the facial nerve but that proved unsuccessful. The minor plaintiff has a permanent facial droop and inability to move the corner of her mouth.

The plaintiff expected to be able to prove that the defendant was negligent when he cut the facial nerve during surgery. The defense was prepared to present evidence that the nerve was not cut but that a part of the nerve disintegrated due to traction placed during the surgery. They were expected to say that was a known risk of the surgery.

The case settled for $1,500,000 one week prior to trial.

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit. (Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and Robert M. Higgins, Suffolk Superior Court)

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