Defense Verdict – Wrongful Death Following Elective Hernia Surgery

About The Case

Wagstaff & Cartmell successfully defended a local surgeon in a jury trial in Jackson County, Missouri, in which the plaintiffs asserted a claim of wrongful death arising from the death of a patient following surgery performed to address a paraesophageal hernia and sought damages in the amount of $2,465,347.24.

The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were negligent for failing to fully repair the patient’s paraesophageal hernia during a surgical procedure in July 2013.  Further, the plaintiffs contended that the defendant was negligent for failing to place a nasogastric tube or gastrostomy tube during or following surgery for purposes of reducing the risk and effects of gastroparesis (dysmotility of the stomach) and aspiration. Lastly, the plaintiffs claimed the defendant departed from the standard of care by advancing the patient’s diet post-operatively, increasing the risk of aspiration and related problems. Ultimately, the plaintiffs claimed that the actions and decisions of the defendant lead to the patient experiencing post-operative vomiting, aspiration, aspiration pneumonia, sepsis and death.

Wagstaff & Cartmell successfully argued that the surgical procedure selected for the patient was the most appropriate option for him due to his age and overall medical condition. The attorneys also argued it was reasonable for the clients not to place tubes during or following surgery and to advance the patient’s diet after surgery because the absence of tubing and advancement of the diet can promote gastric and intestinal motility and reduce complications. Further, the team was able to convince the jury that the patient’s post-operative course and death occurred despite appropriate care by the clients  and likely still would have occurred if a different treatment course had been selected for the patient. After a seven-day trial, a Jackson County, Missouri jury returned a verdict in favor of the clients in this case in which the plaintiffs’ final pretrial demand was $1.95 million.

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