This case involved a medical malpractice claim. Plaintiff Roberto Murillo, a 56 year-old male, underwent left shoulder surgery for a labral tear at a surgicenter on March 18, 2013. Defendant Jay H. Rapley, M.D., an orthopedist and member of Defendant Rockhill Orthopaedic Specialists, Inc., performed the procedure. During the operation, Dr. Rapley inadvertently injured Plaintiff’s brachial artery (located in the upper arm). Dr. Rapley clamped off the vessel and sent Plaintiff by ambulance to Research Medical Center where Dr. Jeffrey Cameron, a vascular surgeon, performed a saphenous vein bypass procedure (which involves the surgical removal and transplantation of the saphenous leg vein to the arm for use as a bridge between the top and bottom portions of the torn artery) to repair the injury. The procedure was successful, and during the bypass, Dr. Cameron documented that the brachial artery had been transected. Three weeks later, the bypass site clotted off and Dr. Cameron performed a second procedure to reestablish blood flow to the lower arm.
Plaintiff subsequently brought suit for medical negligence against Dr. Rapley and Rockhill. He alleged that Dr. Rapley placed his incision in the wrong location and used excessive traction in separating the tissue, thereby causing the transection of the brachial artery. Defendants claimed Dr. Rapley met the standard of care and made the incision in the appropriate location according to the relevant medical literature and his training and experience. Defendants also claimed that if Dr. Rapley had used excessive force, there would have been damage to the surrounding arm veins (which have thinner vessel walls and are thus weaker than arteries). But no damage to the veins occurred. Lastly, Defendants claimed that arterial transection is a rare but known complication of this procedure.
Plaintiff sought total damages of $3,441,930.47, encompassing past and future economic and non-economic damages. The jury returned its verdict in favor of Defendants less than an hour after the case was submitted.