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Eppolito and Beitz Obtain Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

February 18, 2015

Chuck Eppolito, assisted by Edward Beitz, obtained a defense verdict in a jury trial in a medical negligence/malpractice case tried in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. 

The plaintiff was a 35-year-old woman who presented to the Hospital-Defendant’s Emergency Room for a kidney stone. Plaintiff alleged that the nurse employed by the hospital allowed an elastic tourniquet, utilized to establish an IV catheter, to remain tied around her arm for the entirety of her five-hour ER stay. Initially, plaintiff’s experts had been critical of multiple healthcare providers in a variety of ways during the course of the Emergency Room visit. However, prior to trial, White and Williams lawyers were successful in securing the dismissal of all claims against all providers except for the allegation that a tourniquet had been allowed to remain on by the nurse who applied it. The case proceeded to trial under that theory only.

Plaintiff claimed that the tourniquet caused a nerve compression injury in her arm which progressed to reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also known as chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), that has since spread throughout her entire body. According to plaintiff, she has been rendered totally and permanently disabled as a result of the defendant’s alleged negligence. Plaintiff sought to recover substantial damages for lost earnings and earning capacity, future medical expenses, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and disfigurement. Plaintiff had retained approximately 14 experts in various fields, more than half of whom testified at trial in support of their claims (including neurologists, an emergency medicine physician, a nurse, a psychologist, and several damages witnesses), along with numerous treating providers. 

The defense disputed plaintiff’s claims. In particular, defendant presented evidence establishing that a tourniquet was not allowed to remain on, as alleged; to the contrary, it was removed once the IV was established. Further, the defense countered that there was no evidence of nerve injury or of RSD/CRPS and, further, that neither medical literature nor science support the alleged association between such an injury and RSD/CRPS. The defense also explained that some of the plaintiff’s current problems may have been associated with certain pre-existing conditions (such as fibromyalgia) as well as a somotaform disorder (involving a psychological component). The defense was supported by the trial testimony of several health care providers who were involved in this patient’s care in the Emergency Room, as well as numerous experts in fields including neurology, vascular surgery, psychology, psychiatry and nursing.

The case was tried over three weeks and was then submitted to the jury for consideration. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense, specifically finding no negligence, within approximately 30 minutes.

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