Defense Win January 2014

Defense Win January 2014

bruce-keplingerOn January 13, 2014,   john-hicksBruce Keplinger and John Hicks successfully represented a pulmonologist in a medical malpractice case.  The plaintiff was a 44 year-old female who had idiopathictracheal stenosis (narrowing of the trachea).

In September 2000, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant who recommended placement of a trachea stent.  Plaintiff was also seen by an ENT who recommended surgical resection.  Plaintiff elected to have the stent place on September 18, 2000 and her symptoms resolved until October 2001.  Defendant placed a second stent just below where the first stent was placed and Plaintiff’s symptoms again resolved.  However, in August 2002, Plaintiff developed a new area of stenosis above the area of the first stent and just millimeters below her vocal cords.  Defendant informed Plaintiff that he could not stent that close to her vocal cords and referred her to a thoracic surgeon.

The thoracic surgeon surgically removed the stents and told the plaintiff that he believed it was a mistake to have ever placed the stents and that surgery should have been performed in 2000.  The surgeon also told Plaintiff that the stents had caused extensive damage to her trachea that would require the temporary placement of a T-Tube and a delay in surgical resection.  The surgical resection was eventually performed in 2005 and Plaintiff claimed to that her symptoms resolved almost immediately.

This case was originally scheduled for trial in 2006.  However, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant finding that Plaintiff’s sole expert (the treating thoracic surgeon) was not qualified to offer an opinion regarding the standard of care.  The trial court’s ruling was affirmed by the court of appeals but subsequently reversed and remanded by the Kansas Supreme Court in Schlaikjer v. Kaplan, M.D., 289 Kan. 1280 (2009)

At trial Plaintiff alleged that Defendant was negligent in recommending a stent procedure over surgical resection.  Plaintiff claimed that as a result of the stent placement she suffered continued symptoms and unnecessary surgery from 2000 to 2005 totaling $62,400.  Plaintiff also claimed lost wages during this period of $35,000.  Plaintiff claimed $200,000 for pain and suffering and $20,000 for loss of consortium.

On January 16, 2014, after a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.

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