Boston Partners Brent Tingle and Tony Abeln obtained a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case after a two week trial in Suffolk Superior Court. The plaintiff was a very sympathetic 18 year old girl with pre-existing profound developmental disabilities. Her mother brought her to a prestigious Boston hospital for a routine urologic surgery. Following surgery the plaintiff’s right foot was paralyzed from a serious injury to the nerve complex originating in her lower spine. Unfortunately, her pre-existing mental disabilities were a barrier to treatment and the plaintiff would not let any physician or physical therapist even touch her foot. The plaintiff has never walked again and is confined to a wheelchair.
The cause of the injury was never determined although most of the treating neurologists felt it was related to surgical positioning or possibly from the use of a surgical retractor. The plaintiff’s experts testified that an injury like this can only occur as a result of physician negligence. Both defendants conceded in their depositions that an injury like this “should not happen” with this type of surgery.
An outstanding defense expert from Iowa Children’s Hospital testified that that the plaintiff’s improper positioning and careless use of a surgical retractor theories were weak and speculative.
The jury deliberated for 3 1/2 hours before returning a verdict for the defendants.