In Manhattan, we represented a woman, who upon returning home from a New Year’s Eve Party and entering the elevator in her residential apartment building, unfortunately discovered that the elevator was not at the floor when she entered what she thought was the elevator, she actually entered the empty space of the elevator shaft and fell three stories to the bottom of the shaft. Tragically, she was paralyzed from the waist down. Our main claim was that the elevator shaft door should not open unless the elevator is actually there. The safety mechanism that should prevent an elevator shaft door from opening unless the elevator is there failed. A major challenge to a successful recovery in this case was the extent to which the plaintiff had been drinking that night and, therefore, the claim that she was responsible for her own accident and injuries. The legal phrase that describes this issue is “culpable conduct of the plaintiff.” It also falls under a category of cases where at the time of trial the jury will have to determine the “comparative negligence” of both the plaintiff and the defendant.
We represented a truck driver, who was employed to transport and unload items from a manufacturer to a warehouse. He made a delivery to a warehouse and when he was unloading his truck, the heavy, steel “roll down gate” in the bay area that was the entryway to the warehouse broke loose, rolled down at great speed and hit the plaintiff on his shoulder, inflicting substantial personal injury to the plaintiff that required major surgery. Our claim was that the roll-down gate was not properly secured against breaking loose and falling. As a result of his injuries, the plaintiff could no longer work as a truck driver nor unload heavy boxes. In addition to his personal injury recovery, he also received workers compensation.
We represented a skilled mechanic who worked at JFK airport. As part of his job he needed to use large rolling ladders to lift him high enough to fix airplanes. On the day of his accident, he used a rolling ladder with a broken wheel. The ladder toppled. The mechanic fell, hit his head and died very soon after. This case is notable because of the two main challenges to obtaining a recovery:
In this case against a Nassau County hospital we argued there was a failure to respond to the signs of “fetal distress and fetal compromise” and that this failure led to a lack of oxygen, brain damage and the condition called cerebral palsy. This case was notable for the lack of care that was able to be proven regarding the nurses monitoring the mother during labor. These cases are more frequently brought and won against the obstetrician who delivers the baby.
In Queens County, a woman arrived at the hospital in premature labor. She was stabilized, sent home and then returned to the hospital several weeks later (the baby was still premature). In this case, there was a dispute between the assigned consulting obstetrician, the attending obstetrician and the hospital resident obstetricians regarding who was managing the care of this woman’s labor. We successfully showed that there was a period of unrecognized fetal distress and that as a result of negligence in managing this labor, the infant was deprived of oxygen, causing brain damage and cerebral palsy. This case is also notable for showing how disputes over management responsibility during the stressful time of labor and labor and delivery — who is in control? — can lead to tragic and very unfortunate outcomes for the patient.
In the Bronx, a woman arrived at the hospital to give birth. Her obstetrician was at a barbecue in New Jersey. This case resolved around whether the hospital residents accurately communicated the progression of the plaintiff’s labor to the private obstetrician. As a result of negligence in managing this labor, the infant was deprived of oxygen and suffered brain damage in the form of cerebral palsy.
The plaintiff was admitted to a Bronx hospital at 5:54 a.m. There were complaints of an irregular fetal heart beat and a “failure to progress.” This case for medical malpractice was premised on allegations that in addition to some irregular fetal heart rate tracings as recorded by the fetal heart rate monitor, there was also the presence of thick meconium at the time the mother’s “water” was broken. According to the testimony from the defendant obstetrician (the primary physician in the case), based on the standards of practice as they existed at the time, there was a clear need for a cesarean section as of 1:15 p.m. There is a rule of obstetrical practice called the “Decision to Incision” rule that essentially requires that a cesarean section be performed within 30 minutes of the decision to do so when there is an emergency situation. Actually, C-sections can be performed in as little as 5-7 minutes, but the rule is meant to address a variety of situations and has some built-in margin. In this case, it was clear that the delivery should have been completed by 1:45 p.m. However, it was not done till 2:18 p.m., more than half an hour longer than it should have taken. Our argument was that half an hour over the limit of the rule is too long when every second counted and this baby was in distress. We claimed that this delay in doing the C-section is what caused the infant-plaintiff’s damage.
The plaintiff also claimed that there was even further delay than just the time to perform the C-section. This claim argued that there was even more delay in getting the baby out because of the method of anesthesia selected. We argued that epidural anesthesia takes longer to induce (be effective) than general anesthesia. Here, the residents utilized the slower epidural anesthesia. Our pediatric neurologist was prepared to testify that the delay in performing a timely C-section caused the kind of brain damage demonstrated in this case. In fact, the medical records of the defendant hospital were replete with notations of fetal hypoxia before the delivery and fetal asphyxia in the infant’s chart after delivery.
This was a case against City Hospital in Brooklyn where we contended that the staff of the hospital deviated from accepted medical practice when they failed to perform a C-section significantly sooner and, by failing to do so, caused a brain hemorrhage and other problems in the neonatal period. One challenge in cases such as this is there can be other causes for bleeding in the brain than lack of oxygen or fetal distress. In this case, the defendants had a viable claim that the infant plaintiff’s bleeding and injuries came from something other than their alleged delay.
Our client developed a bony growth in his spinal canal (called an osteophyte) that pressed on his spinal cord, making walking difficult. The defendant performed surgery to reduce the size of the bony growth and thereby relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. The cord was damaged in the surgery and the plaintiff was left paralyzed from the waist down. The case was located in New York County. One of the challenges in this case was the fact that our expert neurosurgeon advised us that when an ostephyte presses on the spinal cord for an extended period of time, the pressure is such that the nerve does not always “come back to life” when surgery relieves the pressure. Therefore, it was important for us to overcome the defense that the permanent damage did not come from the actions of the neurosurgeon but were a result of the long pressure of the osteophyte on the patient’s spinal cord.
This Kings County (Brooklyn) case involved the failure by an opthalmology group to diagnose a tumor called an optic nerve sheath meningioma. Instead of conducting a simple test called a visual field test that would have indicated the presence of the tumor our client had, the defendants persisted in calling her condition an optic neuritis with the mistaken belief that they were powerless to save her vision. As a result of their negligence the client lost vision in one eye. A difficult problem in the case was the extreme rarity of the kind of tumor the plaintiff had with the corresponding defense that no ordinary reasonable opthalmologist would have diagnosed this rare tumor.
In this case against a Brooklyn hospital, there was a failure to properly recognize and respond to the signs of fetal distress and also, there was the improper use of drugs to stimulate labor leading to a lack of oxygen and cerebral palsy.
A woman from Nassau County with a cardiac arrhythmia was given a drug to treat that arrhythmia. Either as a result of the drug or the sedative she received, she developed urinary retention, the usually temporary inability to urinate. The urine built up in her bladder and despite her constant complaints, the simple procedure of using a catheter to drain the urine was not done. As a result, the urine volume built up to such an extent that it stretched the bladder to the point where she became permanently unable to urinate on her own. Thankfully, our client was implanted with what was an experimental device that allows her to control her bladder. While nowhere near “normal,” she is not incontinent nor does she need to catheterize herself as was initially feared.
Our client in this case was a man who developed pneumonia to such an extent that it interfered with his breathing and required him to be admitted to the ICU of a Nassau County hospital. As a result of his breathing problems, he became disoriented and delusional and pulled out his IV lines and got out of bed. The physician determined that he needed to be restrained and a nurse applied the restraints. Despite the restraint and his weakened condition, he was able to get out of bed, exit the window in his room onto the ledge, two floors up where he then fell to the ground breaking his arms and legs. The argument was that he was inadequately restrained. At trial, the defendant argued that restraints have to be carefully deployed as they can make patient more upset and aggravate medical problems. The defense also argued that there was no way to predict that patient, who was not psychotic or suicidal, would be in danger of going out his window and falling to the ground.
Despite the fact that the two surgeons taking care of the patient strongly suspected that the patient had a c.difficile colitis (a kind of colon infection), the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital by its staff with a different diagnosis. In fact, one significant aspect of the plaintiff’s case involved the lack of communication between the primary care physicians and the hospital. Accordingly, while the staff of the hospital may have acted reasonably and innocently as they were unaware of the true condition suspected by the surgeons, they gave a drug that had the unfortunate effect of making the situation worse.
This case involved a failure to respond properly to a plaintiff’s acute asthma attack at HIP Center on Staten Island which led to death.
This trial in New York County was based on the idea that the baby being born was not protected from contractions that were too severe. We alleged that these extra strong contractions caused many mini-concussions and bleeding in the brain resulting in permanent brain damage.
This case was extensively litigated and settled near the end of trial. This was a very hard case where the defendants had a “no-pay” position all the way up to and through the trial. The case was able to settle when both sides came to understand that the liability aspect of the case might be resolved in favor of the plaintiff, while it was also clearly understood that the issue of causation was likely to be very problematic for the plaintiff — medical evidence tended to support the defendant that they did not cause the kind of damage the infant plaintiff had. Therefore, it was thought to be prudent by both sides to settle the case rather than let the jury decide the case. This case was also notable for the use of a “special needs trust” to ensure that Medicaid benefits would continue.
In this negligence case, we represented the plaintiff against a physician and a Brooklyn Hospital. The plaintiff was 43 years old at the time of the alleged negligence. The plaintiff went to her neighborhood physician and complained of a sore under her tongue. She returned with the lesion still present. There was a question of fact between the doctor and the plaintiff as to whether the doctor referred her to an ear, nose and throat specialist for a biopsy. The plaintiff then went to a Brooklyn Hospital where no biopsy was done for four months. At this point, the lesion was diagnosed as cancer, albeit Stage 1, and a surgical procedure was performed on, in which a portion of her jaw was removed and an attempt at reconstruction was made. While the patient has remained cancer-free since that time, she also has had many attempts at jaw reconstruction with little success.Another challenge for the case was whether a delay of four months made a difference with the defendant arguing it did not and the plaintiff arguing it did.
The case settled during trial.
Home health aide left sick, debilitated man on floor who became dehydrated.