Defense Verdict re Allegations of Bowel Obstruction Causing Stroke

New York, March 16, 2023.  Andrew Garson continued his string of jury verdicts, with a unanimous defense verdict after a four-week 2023 trial in Suffolk County Supreme Court. Plaintiff, a 42 year old nurse-midwife and Stony Brook professor, was permanently brain damaged and crippled, rendered blind, and was unable to work and perform activities of daily living after she suffered a stroke allegedly due to the Defendant’s failure to timely diagnose a bowel obstruction. This resulted in septic shock, brain hemorrhage,  coma, and a massive bleeding disorder. Plaintiff’s claim arose from a gastric bypass procedure performed by Defendant, as shortly thereafter she complained of problems including excruciating pain and gastrointestinal malfunction persisting over an eighteen-month period, requiring longstanding treatment with narcotics. She claimed that Defendant continually advised her, despite her persistent and progressive complaints, that this was a normal part of recovery and she “should go live her life.” At trial, Plaintiff’s central theory was that Defendant never considered or recognized that there was an abdominal hernia present, causing a bowel obstruction. The claim was that if the Defendant had performed timely surgical intervention, the patient’s catastrophic and permanent injuries would have been avoided. Three experts were called in to support Plaintiff’s claims, asserting that imaging studies during the period at issue demonstrate injuries to her GI tract and a bowel obstruction. Plaintiff subsequently underwent multiple surgeries, removing 80% of her bowel as well as a number of other procedures, to attempt to alleviate her neurologic and abdominal deficits.

The Defendant, a highly experienced surgeon, explained to the jury that the patient’s complaints and symptoms were recognized complications of the surgery, which involves a lengthy period of convalescence. The Defendant followed her in numerous office visits, documenting her condition in detail, and was very attentive to her complaints, during which time the Plaintiff never had a definitive hernia or bowel obstruction. Additionally, at no time did her primary care physician, her gastroenterologist, or any other of several consultants ever diagnose a bowel obstruction. Accordingly, the Defendant surgeon acted appropriately, and the problems the Plaintiff suffered, which occurred after she left his care, could not be objectively tied to him.

After four weeks of trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in less than 30 minutes.

This was the eighth medical malpractice trial to verdict for Mr. Garson, in the past thirteen months.