PPD Wins Jury Trial in $21 Million Medical Malpractice CaseBy: Ryan Perry
After a nearly month-long jury trial in Albany County, Phelan, Phelan & Danek, LLP (“PPD”) secured a complete jury verdict in favor of its client. The case was brought on behalf of a young mother who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Amongst other claims, the plaintiff’s family alleged medical malpractice against the emergency medicine physician, represented by PPD, who treated the patient upon her arrival at the hospital. The plaintiff’s family sought $21 million in damages. The plaintiff was brought to Albany Memorial Hospital by her boyfriend and his parents. She was unconscious on arrival. Although the family claimed that the plaintiff had slipped and fallen on ice, no visible injuries were apparent. Unable to obtain a thorough and accurate patient history, PPD’s physician took immediate action to ensure that the plaintiff was not suffering from a drug overdose. Immediately thereafter, concerned about a potential brain bleed and/or skull fractures, the physician ordered a CT scan. The results of the CT scan revealed that the plaintiff did in fact have a dangerous brain bleed and a fractured skull. The physician promptly contacted a neurologist for a consult and administered medications to reduce brain swelling. Meanwhile, PPD’s physician was called upon to actively participate in a “Code Blue” for another patient who arrived at the hospital in cardiac arrest. Prior to the neurologist’s arrival, PPD’s emergency medicine physician coordinated an emergency transfer of the plaintiff to Albany Medical Center. Because the plaintiff was intubated and unable to protect her airway, the emergency medicine physician decided that a licensed Respiratory Therapist was needed to accompany the critically ill patient during her ambulance transfer to Albany Medical Center. At Albany Medical Center, neurosurgery was performed, and after roughly one month in a coma, the plaintiff ultimately made a miraculous recovery. Expert testimony presented during trial correctly characterized PPD’s emergency medicine physician’s efforts as “life-saving treatment.” Based upon an incorrect time documented in the medical record—a product of inevitable human error, bound to occasionally occur in a hectic emergency department—plaintiff argued that the emergency medicine physician waited too long after receiving the CT scan results to contact the neurologist. Trial counsel for PPD, Jack Phelan, presented the jury with metadata and a radiologist report, which proved that PPD’s physician could not have received the results of the CT scan until 25-30 minutes after the time alleged by the plaintiff. Mr. Phelan further persuaded the jury that any delay caused by waiting for the Respiratory Therapist was negligible, and that the decision to have a Respiratory Therapist aboard was properly based upon the doctor’s sound professional medical judgment in considering the best interests of her patient. After a brief deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of PPD’s physician, completely exonerating her of any claims of medical malpractice. PPD Partner Tim Brennan second-chaired the trial with Jack Phelan. Mr. Brennan submitted a directed verdict motion, which, had the jury found in plaintiff’s favor, may have resulted in a dismissal of the claims regardless. Mr. Brennan also handled all jury charge and verdict issues. In support, Associate Ryan Perry successfully moved to have a bench warrant issued for the arrest of plaintiff’s boyfriend and his father, after the witnesses failed to appear for trial and fled the state.