Verdicts and Settlements – 2014

November

Attorney James B Rosenblum extricated an anesthesiologist and CRNA from a case involving alleged improper monitoring and excessive anesthesia during kidney stone removal. The defense showed that the patient went into a coma and died as a result of water intoxication (excessive sterile water causing hyponatremia), a rare complication of surgery attributable to the surgeon (who was not sued) and that the condition was not caused, nor could it have been diagnosed by anesthesia management. The videotaped deposition of plaintiff’s expert, an anesthesiologist from New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, showed that he had not considered water intoxication and did not appreciate the low sodium post-operatively, but conceded that hyponatremia is a recognized cause of cerebral edema and brain damage which results from too much sterile water administered to patients and which can enter the blood stream through the tissue in and around the kidneys. Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven before Judge Matthew Frechette.

November

Successfully obtained CT license reinstatement for physician who’s license was revoked in 2005, after fully hearing before panel of the Connecticut Medical Examining Board.

October

Attorney James Biondo obtained a defense verdict on behalf of two obstetrician/gynecologists with respect to gynecologic surgery involving urinary stress incontinence and cystocele. The surgery involved a pubovaginal sling using the IVS Tunneler Device and anterior colporrhaphy. Plaintiffs alleged that the pubovaginal sling was improperly placed into the bladder during surgery and was missed during an intra-operative cystoscopy, resulting in numerous subsequent hospitalizations and surgical procedures to remove the sling. The defense countered by asserting that the sling eroded into the bladder over the course of three years. Attorney Biondo successfully established with the jury that the specific sling material used in this case was subsequently shown to have higher than expected erosion rates, and that the plaintiff’s symptoms (or lack thereof) during the post-operative years argued strongly in favor of erosion vs. negligent placement at the time of surgery. The case was tried over the course of three weeks in Bridgeport, before Judge Rush. Plaintiffs were represented by Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder.

September

James B Rosenblum, Esq successfully resolved a claim in favor of the defendant before Judge Richard E. Arnold in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. The case involved spinal anesthesia administered to an infant that resulted in foot-drop. After three years of litigation, the case was resolved during jury selection following rulings favoring the defense. Plaintiff’s counsel was Russell Berkowitz, Esq.

James B Rosenblum extricated an anesthesiologist from a case involving alleged improper monitoring, inadequate oxygenation and excessive anesthesia during an open hernia repair, leading to post-hypoxic myoclonus. The patient had chronic, severe and progressive movement disorders requiring hospitalization until he died of unrelated causes. After extensive evaluation by neurological experts, the defense demonstrated that the patient had transient post-op seizures, which subsided and were replaced by a different type of movement disorder, probably due to Depakote, followed by an early-Parkinson type of disorder. The defendant’s neurological expert was one of the leading movement disorder specialists in North America. Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven before Judge Angela Robinson.

April

Migraines, Neuro-Lyme and Decadron
James B Rosenblumis trying an unusual case which began in December, 2013, in Stamford, Conn.

The case is being tried by the Court and is therefore being held on selected dates, although there have been nearly four weeks of trial. The plaintiff alleges that she was improperly prescribed Decadron – long-term – for headaches, and that Decadron led to an array of problems, including osteoporosis, compression fractures, and the need for surgery. The patient had a history of migraines, for decades, requiring episodic Decadron. She also had psychiatric problems, and developed Lyme Disease (the infection), followed by neuro-Lyme, which intensified the headaches. Multiple physicians had prescribed Decadron. Plaintiff chose to sue only three of them. Plaintiff also took many other types of medications, including opiates and medications for psychiatric problems, which are also associated with osteoporosis. In addition, the patient followed a “ritualistic diet” which could affect osteoporosis. A central issue in the case was whether the Decadron which each of the three physicians prescribed “caused” the various injuries. A Porter/Daubert hearing was held, whereby plaintiff’s causation expert sought to present methodology and a scientific basis for claiming that the Decadron prescribed by the individual defendants “caused” the osteoporosis, fractures and other injuries. The Court granted the Porter hearing after about four days of testimony by plaintiff’s causation expert, finding that the expert lacked a reliable methodology to attribute Decadron prescribed by each defendant to the plaintiff’s injuries.

Apart from other unusual aspects of this case, it involved not only serious, chronic migraines, which are relatively rare, it also involved the impact of neuro-Lyme with associated cerebral inflammation, in addition to the migraines. Plaintiff’s causation testified that the patient was “unique,” so that none of the medical articles upon which she relied really applied to the case.

January

Murder-Suicide and claim of failure to refer to therapy.

James B Rosenblum tried an unusual “murder-suicide” case against a primary care physician. The patient, a 45-year-old transportation engineer working for the State of Connecticut, had been seen by a primary care physician in upstate Connecticut, for insomnia, anxiety and related complaints after his wife filed for divorce. The patient was treated with sleep aids and anxiolytics (for anxiety). About five weeks after the last visit to the defendants, he discovered that his wife was having an affair with a co-worker, and murdered her. He then killed himself. He left two teenaged children. The murderer’s estate sued the primary care physician, and the practice, alleging failure to refer him to a psychotherapist for talk therapy. Plaintiff’s experts were Dr. Jacobs of Harvard University, and Dr. Ferentz from Baltimore. The case was bifurcated. There was a liability verdict in December and an award of over $7 million in early January, 2014. Plaintiff’s counsel sought to prove that the defendants negligently caused the suicide by failing to prevent the murder which presumably led to the suicide. The Court ruled that plaintiff could not recover for the murder, but allowed Dr. Jacobs to testify that a “murder-suicide” was a “unitary event,” caused by “aggression” which led to an eruption, referring to the murder-suicide. Currently, the contention that “murder-suicide” is a “unitary event” has no scientific proof, which forms part of the basis for an appeal of the award. The Court did find that Dr. Jacobs’ “murder-suicide” theory failed the Porter test and that his opinion that the patient would have gone to and pursued therapy and been treated, was speculative. The defendant physician was unavailable for trial. Plaintiff presented his deposition testimony by video. Plaintiff’s counsel was Koskoff, Koskoff. The case was tried in Waterbury, Conn. Judge Dooley presided. In deciding post-verdict motions, the Court set aside findings against the defendant’s Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, concluding that there was no basis for the jury’s finding.

Successfully defended emergency room physician against claimed delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, resulting in bilateral transradial amputations, obtaining discontinuance during evidence.