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Medical Malpractice - Verdicts & Settlements

$275,000 Verdict For Spinal Accessory Nerve Injury

Verdicts, Settlements & Tactics, November 2003

On May 22, 1997, the Plaintiff, William Lindsley, underwent an excisional right neck lymph node biopsy performed by the Defendant, Edward Batzel, M.D., at Moses Taylor Hospital's Short Procedure Unit. The Plaintiff, William Lindsley, underwent excision of the mass under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. According to the operative report, the surgery began with incision at 2:40 P.M. and ended at 3:00 P.M. Following surgery, Mr. Lindsley began to experience extreme discomfort and pain in his upper right chest and neck, as well as the shoulder area and back. He also noticed a wasting away or "hole" developing in the right clavicle area.

Subsequently, Mr. Lindsley saw a neurologist who confirmed that during the course of the procedure, Mr. Lindsley's spinal accessory nerve had sustained injury. As a result of this injury, Mr. Lindsley underwent exploration of the right spinal accessory nerve and reanastomosis. Following his nerve repair, Mr. Lindsley underwent extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation. Despite his efforts, Mr. Lindsley was left with a permanent biomechanical dysfunction of his left shoulder. Mr. Lindsley was retired as of the date of his surgery.

Plaintiff maintained that the Defendant, Dr. Batzel, was negligent in his performance of the excisional lymph node biopsy and, additionally, failed to obtain Mr. Lindsley's informed consent prior to performing the procedure. At the time of trial, it was uncontested that Dr Batzel, at no time, prior to the performance of the procedure, advised Mr Lindsley of a risk of injury to his spinal accessory nerve. Dr. Batzel merely advised Mr Lindsley of a generic risk of injury to nerves and/or blood vessels.
Injury: Spinal accessory nerve injury.

Result: $275,000 jury verdict.

The verdict included an award for loss of consortium on behalf of the Plaintiff's spouse. The jury found that Dr. Batzel was negligent in the performance of the procedure and failed to obtain Mr. Lindsley's informed consent.

Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses: John R. Bogdasarian, M D, F.A.C.S. - Otolaryngologist, Plastic Surgery, Boston, Mass.; Robert W. Mauthe, M D, Physiatrist, Quakertown, Pa.; Richard E. Fischbein, M.D., Psychiatrist, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Defendant's Expert Witnesses: Alan M. Miller, M.D., F.A.C.S., Otolaryngologist, Plastic Surgery, Norristown, Pa.; Wayne E. Dubov, M.D., Physiatrist, Quakertown, Pa.; Matthew Berger, M.D., Psychiatrist, Kingston, Pa.

Plaintiffs' Attorney: Michael J. Kowalski, of Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, Kingston, PA

Defendant's Attorney: John J. Aponick, Jr., Scranton, PA

Lindsley v Batzel, No 98-CV-2300 (Lackawanna Cty. Ct. of Common Pleas, Pa. June 23, 2003)

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