Jon Lynn and Lori Lewellen recently got a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case in Miami-Dade. The Plaintiff, a forty-five year old gentleman who had been involved in a three car rear-end automobile accident, was referred by his lawyer to the defendant, a board certified orthopedic surgeon who attended Harvard Medical School and had completed his training at the Harvard affiliated hospitals in Boston. Ultimately, the patient underwent an L4-L5 decompression and an L4 pars fracture repair and recovered nicely from his surgery. At the time of his last office visit with the patient about three months post-op, the defendant doctor documented that the patient’s pain level was 0/10, down from 10/10 pre-operatively, and he assigned the patient a 7% impairment of the body as a whole attributable to the patient’s automobile accident. Following the defendant’s care, the patient settled his auto accident case within a couple of months of his surgery. Thereafter, however, and about 10 months after his surgery, the patient developed recurrent, 10/10 low back pain and was seen at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Ultimately, the Plaintiff underwent a four-level spinal fusion, following which he developed complications and, by the time of trial, had been determined to be totally disabled. The Plaintiff’s expert, a local board certified orthopedic surgeon, testified that the procedure performed by the defendant had a “0%” chance of succeeding and he surmised that the surgery had been done solely for financial reasons. The defense expert, an orthopedic surgeon and a professor at the Yale University Medical School, testified that the defendant’s performance of the surgery was entirely appropriate and well within the applicable standard of care. The Plaintiff asked the jury to award literally millions of dollars (the medical bills and loss of earning capacity claims alone were worth a little over a million dollars) and also sought punitive damages from the defendant. The jury deliberated for about an hour after a 6-day trial before returning a defense verdict.