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11-1 Defense Verdict ◦ Health Care

William H. Chamblee and Jennifer H. Saucedo obtained an 11 to 1 defense verdict on behalf of a board-certified gynecologic oncologist. The case involved a ureteral injury that occurred during a hysterectomy performed by the Defendant and an assistant surgeon. The ureteral injury was discovered several days after the surgery while the patient was still in the hospital. After the ureteral injury was discovered, the patient underwent a nephrostomy and was discharged home with a nephrostomy tube and bag, which she had for approximately three months until a definitive surgery to reimplant the ureter into the bladder was performed by a urologist. The reimplantation surgery was successful, and the patient recovered well from a urologic standpoint. The Plaintiffs – the patient and her husband, who are both attorneys – claimed that in addition to some degree of ongoing physical pain, the patient suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder as a result of the ureteral injury and subsequent surgeries necessitated by that injury.

At trial, the Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendant was negligent in failing to suspect a ureteral injury intraoperatively and perform certain studies that would have diagnosed the injury prior to closing the patient. The Defendant testified that at the time of surgery, he felt the ureters had been kept out of harm’s way and had no reason to suspect that an injury had occurred. Plaintiffs’ and Defendant’s experts both testified that the fact that the injury occurred did not constitute negligence; that the Defendant did not, in fact, suspect that an injury had occurred; and that intraoperative studies to rule out an injury are generally not required unless a surgeon suspects an injury. Rather, the primary disagreement between the two experts was whether it was reasonable for the Defendant not to suspect an injury under the specific circumstances of this surgery, which included the presence of endometriosis and a distended lower uterine segment.

The jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating for approximately an hour and a half.

Attorneys: William H. Chamblee, Jennifer H. Saucedo