Plaintiff was a 59 year old woman with a history of severe obesity and multiple other medical conditions, including insulin dependent diabetes.
In 2013, she developed gall bladder problems and was referred to Dr. M for surgery. He took her to surgery and tried to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy but due to obesity it had to be converted to an open procedure. Dr. M successfully removed the gall bladder during surgery and closed her wound in a standard and normal fashion.
Several days after the surgery she developed an infection at the surgical site but did not go back to see Dr. M and instead went to a different institution. Her surgical wound came apart (dehisced) as a result of the severe intra-abdominal infection. She was immediately taken to surgery by two other surgeons who opened the wound and determined that the fascial layer had dehisced (come apart) and they questioned whether it had been properly closed by Dr. M in the first surgery. They cleaned the patient’s abdominal cavity and eventually closed the wound after removing several adhesions and infected tissue. Unfortunately, the patient had to undergo further surgeries and was left with a very large scar on her abdomen.
At trial both subsequent surgeons testified against Dr. M and testified that he had not properly closed the fascial layer in his first surgery.
Mark Oium tried the case for Dr. M and presented expert testimony that Dr. M had properly closed the fascia, that he had not incorporated the liver in the suturing of the fascia as contended by the two other surgeons, and that the wound dehisced as a result of the patient’s multiple medical problems, including diabetes.
Initially the jury was hung, but after an appropriate instruction by the Court the jury eventually returned a verdict for plaintiff, but it was for approximately $75,000 less than that requested by plaintiff from the jury.