Directed Verdict- Fentanyl Intoxication Wrongful Death Trial

Andrew Garson continued his record of successful trial results, obtaining a directed verdict and dismissal of a complex medical malpractice-wrongful death case before Justice Carmen St. George in Suffolk County Supreme Court on September 20, 2023. These claims involved the death of a 57-year-old husband and father, from acute Fentanyl and opioid intoxication. Mr. Garson’s client was a prominent pain management specialist, who treated the patient with a variety of medications and epidural steroid injections during monthly visits over the course of five years for head, neck and lower back pain due to a debilitating accident. The patient was also under the care of a psychiatrist, for depression, who prescribed several psychotropic medications. Plaintiff’s attorneys claimed that an excessive amount of medications were used, which had dangerous interactions, and that these physicians failed to communicate and coordinate with each other. Plaintiff further alleged that the longstanding treatments were ineffective in improving his condition; caused symptoms including hallucinations, vertigo, cognitive disturbances, respiratory and digestive difficulties leading to numerous hospitalizations and ultimately the patient’s death due to respiratory failure, as reported at autopsy.

It was the physician’s position that this patient suffered from incapacitating physical, neurologic and emotional problems due to the initial accident. He was carefully monitored by both the pain management specialist, as well as the psychiatrist, with both mindful of drug interactions and adjusted the dosages according to the patient’s condition and response. Moreover, the severity of his initial condition, as well as the complexity of his prior health problems, required multiple medications.

Plaintiff presented four medical witnesses in support of their claims, as well as the patient’s wife, who made an emotionally compelling presentation. At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case, it was argued by Mr. Garson that the opinions upon which plaintiff’s experts based their opinions of malpractice were not adequately supported by the factual evidence, as well as the witness’s lack of legally sufficient reliability. After hearing extensive oral argument, Judge St. George agreed with the defense, and the case was dismissed. The Court cited several appellate decisions in support of her Honor’s ruling. This was an extremely gratifying result, which occurs infrequently in cases where a plaintiff produces expert testimony and there are substantial damages due to the patient’s death.

This was Mr. Garson’s tenth consecutive medical malpractice trial since the Covid restrictions were lifted.