GMR Partner Joe Petka won a medical malpractice Philadelphia jury trial in the face of a $5,000,000 demand. The case involved an inpatient fall at a hospital Joe represented. The plaintiff was a 63-year-old female recovering from stomach surgery she had early that day. The plaintiff alleged that the hospital was negligent for not responding to her call bell quickly enough. She alleged that she had to use the restroom and that the hospital failed to respond to her call for over half an hour. Accordingly, when she could no longer hold her bladder, the plaintiff attempted to use the restroom by herself and fell. She also alleged that the responding nurse was negligent in not calling for a rapid response team quick enough after the fall and for making her get back into bed by herself, thus causing further injuries.
The plaintiff sustained a trimalleolar fracture of her left ankle, requiring an open reduction internal fixation surgery. After failing to recover fully, she had a second surgery a year later to remove the hardware. The plaintiff called her treating surgeon as a witness, live at trial. The surgeon testified that the plaintiff was disabled because of the fall and had developed post-traumatic arthritis. Moreover, she would need additional surgeries to repair her ankle. He estimated the cost of the future surgeries and treatment as being approximately $250,000. The plaintiff also called a liability expert to testify about the hospital’s failure to meet the standards of care.
However, the plaintiff’s experts fell apart on the witness stand under Joe’s tough cross-examination. Specifically, the surgeon admitted that when he rendered his opinion about the plaintiff’s disability, he was unaware she was already in pain management before the accident and had similar limitations. Concerning the liability expert, Joe cross-examined her on cherry-picking through the records to support the plaintiff’s claims while ignoring everything that refuted the claims. For instance, she testified that it took the responding nurse 11 minutes to call rapid response after the fall. In contrast, other documents within the plaintiff’s medical chart suggested that it was less than 5 minutes. She also alleged that the hospital did not respond to the plaintiff’s call bell for over half an hour; however, she ignored documentation that suggested that the response time could have been as short as 54 seconds. Ultimately, the expert’s refusal to include unfavorable information in her report caused the jury to discredit her.
After the trial, the Philadelphia jury of seven women and five men found that the plaintiff failed to prove negligence and found in favor of Joe’s hospital client.