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Hospital, Doctor Found Liable in Elderly's Unsuccessful Spinal Surgery

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    Hospital, Doctor Found Liable in Elderly's Unsuccessful Spinal Surgery

    Hospital, Doctor Found Liable in Elderly's Unsuccessful Spinal Surgery
    National Jury Verdict Reporter

    Verdict: $2,900,000.00
    Case: Samuel Hairston v. Kenneth Casey M.D.; Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital, No. January 2000, No. 1890
    Court: Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, PA
    Judge: William J. Manfredi
    Date: 07-19-2002

    Francis T. Colleran; Law Offices of James E. Colleran; Philadelphia, PA, for Samuel Hairston

    Betsy Bates R.N.; Rehabilitation Counseling; Baltimore, MD called by: Francis Colleran
    Sanford Davne M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Newtown Square, PA called by: Francis Colleran

    Demonstrative Evidence: Medical records, anatomical blow-ups

    Kenneth S. Fair; Naulty, Scaricamazza & McDevitt; Philadelphia, PA, for Kenneth Casey, M.D., Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital

    Richard Close M.D.; Neurology; Lancaster, PA called by: Francis Colleran

    Demonstrative Evidence: None
    Insurer: Pennsylvania Insurance Guarantee Association, Medical Catastrophic Loss Fund For Kenneth Casey, Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital

    The rear car, driven by David Tarnowski, rear-ended Thornley, pushing her into the lead car driven by Thomas Foley. Police cited Tarnowski. The impact was described as minor. Thornley died from unrelated causes while the lawsuit was pending. Her husband, Collin, continued as the executor of her estate. A deposition taken before her death was used; however, it contained no cross-examination. Tarnowski, who was sued in a separate lawsuit, stipulated to liability limits of $20,000.

    In 1998, Samuel Hairston sought treatment for leg and lower back pain at the emergency room of the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. At the hospital, he was admitted and underwent an MRI exam, which detected a herniated disk applying pressure to the spinal cord. He then came under the care of Kenneth Casey, M.D., who allegedly opted for a non-surgical approach to treating Hairston, administering steroids to reduce inflammation around the herniated disk. Hairston left the hospital one week later in improved condition, but returned about three weeks thereafter with more severe pain in his back and legs. Casey then performed a posterior decompressive laminectomy and disc decompression, entering the body through the back to relieve pressure on the spine. After the procedure, residual osteophytic particles, bone growths that continued to compress the spine, were allegedly still detected. After two more weeks of recovery, Hairston left the hospital unable to walk unassisted. In 2000, Hairston sued Casey and the Medical College, alleging that they were negligent in not treating him surgically during his first visit to the hospital and that Casey was negligent in both employing a posterior instead of an anterior approach to the spine and in not operating again to relieve the continuing spinal pressure. The defense argued that Hairston's care met acceptable standards and that his permanent condition was a known possible consequence of the surgery.

    Verdict Information:
    On July 19, 2002, the 12-member jury found in the plaintiff's favor, finding the Medical College 88.5% responsible for Hairston's injuries and Casey 11.5% responsible, and awarding Hairston $2,900,000. No post-trial motions have been filed as of yet.

    Demand: n/a

    Offer: n/a

    "With every scientific advance, we grow closer to unlocking the mysteries of life and creation. But what have we gained if in the process, we lose our humanity. The most powerful thing we pass along to our children may not reside in the genes, but in the soul."
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