Case Study

$20M Verdict| Medical Malpractice | New York

This case involves a neurosurgeon,  who rushed to judgment and failed to properly monitor a 37-year-old patient, thereby allowing an infection to spread into his discs and bone post-operatively, resulting in permanent structural alteration of the patient’s spine and the consequences thereof. In the Fall of 2013, the plaintiff was working as a bond broker, where he earned in excess of $1M/year. The plaintiff was extremely active as well, including training for a triathlon. Around this time, the plaintiff began experiencing pain in his lower back and right leg, so he began treating with an acupuncturist and a chiropractor. The plaintiff also tried epidural injections without relief. When conservative treatments failed, the plaintiff’s chiropractor referred him for an MRI, which revealed herniations at the L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. As such, the chiropractor referred the plaintiff to a neurologist, who he first saw on 2/27/14. At that initial visit, the neurologist told the plaintiff he would likely need surgery, and to call his office if he would like to schedule. The neurologist says he discussed the risks of surgery verbally with the plaintiff at that time. A few weeks later, the plaintiff contacted the neurologist’s  office and requested to schedule the surgery. He was faxed the consent form, which did not specifically list the risks, and no pre-op testing was done. The next time plaintiff saw the neurologist was on 3/26/14, the day of surgery, and he was discharged the next day. Although the plaintiff felt okay for the first week after surgery, he began experiencing pain in his back. 9 days later, so he called the neurologist on Saturday, 4/5/14. The neurologist was in Florida golfing at the time. He told the plaintiff to “rest up,” and he prescribed him Tramadol and a Medrol Dosepak, in addition to the meds he was taking. However, the next day plaintiff woke up in excruciating pain, so his brother brought him to the ER. The plaintiff was admitted and given an MRI of his lumbar spine, as well as blood work. The MRI was suspicious for granulation tissue versus phlegmon secondary to infection, and the plaintiff’s blood work markers were all elevated. Nevertheless, the neurologist did not believe the plaintiff had an infection, and he was discharged on 4/8/15. One week later, on 4/15/14, the plaintiff returned to the neurologist with continuing back pain, but the doctor didn’t order further testing. Over the next 6 weeks, the plaintiff tried acupuncture, massage, Pilates and another epidural injection, on 5/21/14, in an effort to alleviate his pain. On 5/28/14,the plaintiff returned to neurologist with continuing pain, and this time the doctor sent him to the ER for follow up testing, which ultimately revealed osteomyelitis and discitis. The plaintiff required 6 weeks of IV antibiotics to treat the infection, and he suffered a severe allergic reaction as well. The neurologist then contacted the plaintiff and returned a check for $10,000 that he had paid prior to the surgery. Although the plaintiff was able to return to his job in September of 2014, his pain returned, and it started to inhibit his performance. For that reason, the plaintiff was relieved of his position in December of 2016. Since the plaintiff feels that he can no longer perform his job as a bond broker, he switched his line of work to real estate sales, but he now earns significantly less. 

Our Mission

Attorney John Awad requested assistance from Total Trial Solutions, including help Focus Grouping  “just can’t get over” facts; developing case frames; testing conflicting experts’ opinions;  discovering whether jurors believe the neurologist was negligent and, if so, whether that was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries; gauging jurors’ feelings about the plaintiff from his interview video; learning how jurors value plaintiff damages; and uncovering negative attribution.

Incident Location

Our Work

Total Trial Solutions conducted a virtual Focus Group, which included feedback from 12 mock jurors. 

 Senior Focus Group Moderator John. D. Kiselak presented case facts to a mock jury of 12 and gathered their thoughts and opinions on causation, liability, and damages. The The Focus Group lasted five hours and resulted in a 50 page analysis and report by our Senior Focus Group Moderator. John D. Kiselak. 

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