$8.7 Million Verdict for surgical mishap during an exploratory laparoscopy in 26-year-old engineer

Sep 05 2017

Brian Hurst and Thomas Boleky were on trial for nearly two weeks in a surgical malpractice case filed against Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This was the second time the partners had tried this case before a jury. A year earlier, the jury could not come to a unanimous decision despite deliberating for over 16 hours and it resulted in a hung jury (11-1 in Plaintiff’s favor). The case involved a 26 year-old female, admitted to the Emergency Room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a history of pelvic pain for several months, which had worsened that day. An exploratory laparoscopy was performed and during the procedure a surgical resident, employed by the hospital, inserted a trocar into the Plaintiff’s abdomen too deeply, to a length that it pierced through the common iliac artery and vein, two major blood vessels located near the back of the pelvic cavity. The patient loss nearly 8000 ccs of blood and an emergency surgical team had to be brought in to immediately open her belly, identify the blood vessels perforated in the surgery, and repair them in time to prevent her from bleeding to death. The patient suffered a long and painful recovery from this surgery, including a lengthy stay in the ICU, and was left with significant inner abdominal adhesions (scar tissue), and forced her to give up her career as an industrial engineer. On retrial, despite a vigorous defense of the resident’s conduct in inserting the trocar far too deeply, a jury found in favor of the Plaintiff and awarded her $8.7 million. Northwestern Memorial Hospital later filed post-trial motions arguing for a remittitur – as they believed the jury awarded too much for her injuries – which the trial judge granted and reduced the judgment to $2.3 million.

See The Trial Lawyer Magazine article: “$8.7M in damages for botched laparoscopy” here