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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Ischemic Bowel Injury Yields $115,000 Verdict

Soter v. Vandenberg

$115,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict:
Jan. 27, 2003.

Court and Case Number:
C.P. Lehigh, No. 2000-C-3048V.

Lawrence J. Brenner.

Type of Action:
Medical Malpractice.

Ischemic bowel injury.

Plaintiff's Attorney:
Michael J. Kowalski, Hourigan Kluger & Quinn, Kingston.

Defense Attorney:
John R. Hill, The Perry Law Firm, Bethlehem.

Plaintiff's Experts:
Jeffrey S. Freed, M.D.; general surgeon/proctologist, New York; William A. Baldino, M.D., thoracic/vascular surgeon, Dover, N.J.; and Andrew G. Verzilli, Ph.D., economist, Philadelphia.

Defense Experts:
Jeffrey Blinder, M.D., diagnostic radiologist, Allentown; and Melvin L. Moses, M.D., thoracic surgeon, Philadelphia.

A Lehigh County jury returned a verdict of $115,000 in a medical malpractice case involving a physician's alleged failure to order a mesenteric arteriogram despite the patient's demonstration of symptoms that, the plaintiff argued, were consistent with mesenteric ischemia.

On Nov. 17, 1998, Carleene L. Sorer was admitted to Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital by defendant Dr. Mark T. Vandenberg for complaints of diffuse abdominal pain, weakness, occasional nausea and the passing of reddish brown liquid stools. On admission, Soter, 72 at the time, noted that she had a poor appetite and had recently lost 30 pounds. She further complained of postprandial pain, which is pain after eating.

Vandenberg performed a right hemicolectomy on Soter - a surgical procedure to remove the right-hand side of the colon. He diagnosed her condition as stricture of hepatic flexure, underlying submucosal fibrosis and vascular proliferation. Vandenberg noted that although the findings were nonspecific, they were consistent with an ischemic etiology. During the course of the procedure, there were no. pulses palpable in the middle colic or ileo colic arteries.

Plaintiff Stanley Z. Soter, executor of Carleene Soter's estate, alleged that while these findings were consistent with mesenteric ischemia, Vandenberg failed to order a mesenteric arteriogram. Consequently, the plaintiff said, Soter made no progress and, on Nov. 30, 1998, was transferred by Medivac helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where she underwent an arteriogram revealing complete occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery. By that time, the plaintiff asserted, Soter's small bowel was not salvageable, nor was she a candidate for mesenteric revascularization.

Soter died on Dec. 1, 1998. Her cause of death was cardiac arrest, small bowel infarction and mesenteric ischemia.

At trial, the plaintiff alleged that Vandenberg was negligent in his failure to order an arteriogram prior to Soter's bowel infarction, in his maintenance of Soter at a facility that did not have the capability to treat a patient with mesenteric ischemia and in his failure to transfer Soter in a timely fashion to a facility that could treat her disease.

The defense asserted that after Vandenberg performed the right hemicolectomy on Soter, he observed that her colon and small intestine showed good color, giving him the impression that there was good flow and that the small intestine and colon were viable. Therefore, the defense argued, it was reasonable for Vandenberg, under the circumstances, to conclude that there was no occlusion and, thus, no need-to perform an arteriogram or transfer the patient to another facility.

The trial commenced on Jan. 21, and on Jan. 27, after more than five hours of deliberation, the 12-person jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

HKQ Law is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Nine attorneys at HKQ Law were recently named to the 2019 Best Lawyers List and has been designated a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury, medical malpractice litigation labor law and corporate law in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history on behalf of injured clients. The firm was also recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A. Quinn is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



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