This was a tragic case where an Emergency Room doctor failed to diagnose and treat a patient’s progressive respiratory difficulties which occurred over the course of several hours while the patient was in an Emergency Room in Queens. Not only did the defendant’s misdiagnosis and inattentiveness cause the patient’s wrongful death – we also discovered that the doctor tried to “doctor the chart” in an apparent effort to cover-up his malpractice. This case was particularly important to me because the defendant, his lawyers, and even his malpractice insurance carrier refused to make any kind of settlement offer to the family prior to trial. The reason they took a “no-pay” position is because they felt a jury wouldn’t find the man’s life to be worth much because he wasn’t married, had no children, and was only able to get a job working off-the-books and therefore had no documented proof of lost earnings. We strongly believe that human life and Patient Safety is of paramount importance – regardless of what the defendants or defense-lawyers think. And we are ready and willing to take cases like this all the way to verdict. The jury agreed with us. It felt particularly gratifying to receive the jury’s verdict in this case because it shows that people in the community truly care about issues that involve Patient Safety. I believe it is important to continually remind large corporations and powerful insurance companies that Patient Safety – and lives of fellow human beings – is what matters most.
I’m grateful to the law firm that handled this case pre-trial – and to the family of the patient – who asked me to step-in as Trial Counsel shortly before this case came up for Jury Selection. Not only were the facts of this case extremely compelling to me, but the journey that I was taken on in preparing this case for trial is one that I will always treasure. This case had been written up as a “no-pay” case by the doctor and hospital’s insurance company. In legal circles, that means the defense lawyers and insurance company have concluded that a jury will not be inclined to give the family any money, therefore, there’s no reason to offer any money to settle it. Unfortunately, it was later reveled the real reasons behind the insurance company’s refusal to make any settlement offer actually had little to do with the actual facts of the case. Their false assumptions and just plain bigotry turned out to be a costly mistake for them. After receiving the verdict, I decided to write and share a very personal and detailed description of one very important aspect of this case: the way in which my 4-year-old Daughter helped me craft the winning opening statement in a trial that many lawyers would have viewed as an extremely complex medical malpractice case. You will find a link to that story here: Is Being a Medical Malpractice Trial Attorney “Creative”?
We achieved a settlement for the two children of a single mother who was malpracticed after undergoing abdominal surgery. The surgery seems to have went well, but the patient developed a blood clot that traveled to her lungs and caused her breathing difficulty. She was required to undergo another surgery to remove the clot from her lungs which again went well. After the surgery the doctors placed the patient on medicine to thin out her blood. Unfortunately, they failed to look at the lab reports which showed that over several days her blood becoming too thin and she was at risk for an internal bleed. Despite her blood being 300% beyond the maximum safety limits, the hospital continued to give her more of the medication. Finally when the lab reports showed that she was over the “critical” level, the patient began to complain of a headache. This was a critical sign that her blood was too thin and that she was about to have a brain hemorrhage. The nurse who was attending to the patient chose to give the patient “aspirin” for her headache. This turned out to be the straw that broke the camels back and set off a massive bleed on both sides of her brain which the patient could not survive.
We achieved the settlement in this case after several years of hard-fought litigation. This child was born just after midnight on Christmas day in a Manhattan hospital after his mother had endured 12 hours of induction with an “experimental” procedure. Ordinarily, drugs called Prepadil or Cervadil are used to help a woman’s cervix open if it does not open naturally. However, in this case the hospital tried to take advantage of this mother (who only spoke Bengali) and tried out a method of cervical ripening which is used exclusively in developing countries (where drugs are not available). This technique involves placing one end of a balloon catheter into the mother’s cervix and inflating it, and then taping the other end to the inside of her leg so that slight pressure is applied to the cervix to help it open manually over time. Unfortunately, this method is far inferior to pharmaceutical cervical ripening and resulted in a long delay in this child being delivered. As a result, the baby was born with oxygen deprivation. During the course of litigation we uncovered an article in a medical journal that the hospital published which revealed that this method of induction was known to them to be far inferior to using drugs. Unfortunately, they of course never explained to the mother that she was being used as a guinea pig to be part of their study. After years of litigation and research, we were able to make the hospital take responsibility for what they did to this family. The money the family received will be invested in special annuities that will provide this child with life-long therapies and medical care.
In this case, the mother of the infant plaintiff was found to have an incompetent cervix during a routine prenatal visit when she was 15 weeks pregnant. In order to strengthen the cervix, a stitch called a “cerclage” was placed around her cervix and tied in place. Unfortunately, the first-year resident who placed this cerclage did not have the required experience to perform this procedure. Several weeks later, the mother went back to the hospital for a regular checkup and they found that the knot had come undone and her bag of water was protruding through the cervix. The infant was barely 20 weeks old at the time. The hospital decided to admit the mother and have her lay on her back in the Tredelenburg position to help the bag of water recede back into her uterus. After laying on her back for several weeks, the bag of water did go back in place. However, the doctor failed to place a new cerclage to hold the cervix shut. A short time later, the mother went into preterm labor and the child was born too soon and unable to breathe on his own which resulted in brain damage. When this child began school, she had to receive special education because of the oxygen deprivation she sustained at birth. The money obtained for this child will be used for supplemental tutoring and therapies that are not provided in the public school system. With these intensive sessions, she will now likely be able to go on and receive a college education. This is another example of how making the defendant’s pay for their mistakes benefits the public at large. Were it not for this lawsuit, the child’s extra needs would have to been paid by tax dollars through public assistance programs. Instead, the money obtained from the defendant’s insurance company will be used to pay the child’s bills.
This case involved an infant who sustained hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, to his brain during delivery. As a result of a collaborative effort, a $4.75 million settlement was procured on behalf of the infant plaintiff and his family. All of the money received for this child has been placed into special investment instruments that are backed by the federal government. Further, the access to this money is restricted by the court so that it can only be used for this child’s personal care and treatment. As a result, there will be enough money to take care of him until the end of his natural life, even if he were to out-live all of his family members and relatives. Were it not for this lawsuit, all of the child’s needs would have to be paid through tax dollars. This is an example of why this system actually works. In this case, the defendant who caused the injuries was required to pay for the harm he caused. This child will now be taken care of, and will not be a burden on the taxpayers, because his parents took action and made sure that the defendant who caused the harm be required to pay for the care their child needs.
This case involved an infant who sustained trauma to his brain during his descent through his mother’s birth canal. As a result of a collaborative effort a $2 million settlement was obtained on behalf of the infant plaintiff. This represented the full amount of insurance policy that was available from the defendant. This money is being used to provide for the child’s needs in his home with his family. Instead of having to rely on the public healthcare system, or send the child to a group home, this family is able to live with the child in their house and have his medical needs and therapies paid by the defendant who is responsible for the harm, instead of public tax dollars.
In the summer of 2007, The Law Office of Anthony T. DiPietro negotiated a settlement in the amount of $1.8 Million for an infant plaintiff whose mother was improperly sent home from a hospital in Brooklyn while she was pregnant. As a result, the mother was caused to go into labor in her own house and needed to be transported to a different hospital by ambulance on an emergency basis. Upon arrival at the second hospital the mother was noted as having meconium and immediately gave birth to her son within 15 minutes of their arrival. The child suffered from permanent disabilities as a result of inhaling the meconium.