As Published In
Verdict Search: New York Reporter
Settlement: $400,000, Xxxxxxx Vega and Xxxxxx Vega v. Methodist Hospital and [PL]; XXXXX/93
Venue: King County Supreme Court
Judge: Randolph M. Jackson
Plaintiff Attorney: Eric Turkewitz, New York, NY
Defendant Attorney: Scott W. Bermack, Callan, Koster, Brady & Brennan, L.L.P., New York, NY
Insurer(s): Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers for [PL]
Facts & Allegations
On May 28, 1992, plaintiff Xxxxxxx Vega, 25, an office assistant, underwent an outpatient hemorrhoidectomy at Methodist Hospital in New York. [PL] performed the procedure, which was intended to remove three hemorrhoid clusters.
While in the recovery room following the surgery, Vega was found to have hemorrhaged about 15% to 20% of his blood volume. Two hours later, he underwent exploratory follow-up surgery. [PL] discovered an arterial bleeder, which he repaired with a suture. He also cauterized other areas from which fluid was oozing.
Within a month of the surgery, Vega developed an anal stricture, due to extensive scar tissue. He underwent several anal dilations to stretch or break the stricture.
Vega brought a medical-malpractice action against [PL]. He claimed that [PL] removed too much tissue during the hemorrhoidectomy, and that [PL]’s failure to leave islands of healthy tissue caused scars to form around Vega’s anus.
Vega also contended that [PL]’s use of a cautery damaged healthy tissue and led to further scars. He added that [PL] did not inform him that a change in diet might have obviated the need for surgery.
[PL] contended that he left islands of healthy tissue, and that the amount of tissue removed was appropriate. He claimed that post-operative bleeding was a risk of the hemorrhoidectomy and the subsequent emergency, life-saving procedures — including the cauterization.
[PL] also noted that Vega had been suffering from hemorrhoids since the age of 11, and that Vega had already attempted conservative treatment. Thus, he contended that any reasonable person would have opted for surgery.
Editor’s Note: This case was originally tried in January 2000. That matter ended after Justice William J. Garry precluded the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, due to the plaintiffs’ alleged failure to timely exchange expert disclosure. The plaintiff then attempted to try the case on informed consent, based on [PL]’s testimony. But Garry precluded questioning in this area and rendered a directed verdict for [PL]. (See VerdictSearch New York Reporter, Volume XVII, Issue 39, page 31.) The appellate division subsequently reversed on both issues and ordered a new trial. The plaintiffs then discharged their original attorney of record and retained Turkewitz, who subsequently tried this case successfully.
Injuries / Damages:
- incontinence; loss of consortium; loss of services; scar and/or disfigurement
- Vega sustained sphincter-muscle damage with several dilatations. He has severe anal scars, and he experiences difficult bowel movement and occasional incontinence. He was hospitalized for five days after the hemorrhoidectomy and its follow-up procedure.
- Vega’s wife, Xxxxxx, claimed loss of consortium and loss of services.
Methodist Hospital was granted summary judgment on liability rior to the initial trial. The plaintiffs settled with [PL] for $400,000 during jury deliberations.
Post-Trial: Following the settlement agreement, the jury revealed that it would have rendered a plaintiff’s verdict on all three allegations.