Shareholder Stephen A. Tyler successfully defended a hospital in northwest Indiana charged with malpractice. The lawsuit stemmed from the death of a female patient who developed meningitis three days after being discharged from the hospital following surgery to remove a brain tumor. The patient’s husband contended that his wife’s meningitis was a hospital-acquired infection resulting from a failure by the hospital to utilize appropriate infection control measures at the time of surgery. Plaintiff asked the jury for damages in the amount of $2.3 million. Plaintiff also submitted an alternative damages request -- $1.3 million for survival damages -- if the jury found that meningitis was not the cause of death.
Tyler presented evidence that within hours of being discharged from the hospital, the patient developed a leak of cerebrospinal fluid at the surgical incision site -- a common complication of such surgery and a known risk factor for the development of meningitis. The evidence presented by the defense included MRI images of the brain taken after the patient was discharged from the hospital which demonstrated that her cerebrospinal fluid did not contain protein indicative of an acute infection, so that the patient’s infection could only have been acquired after she left the hospital. Tyler also presented evidence that the patient’s death was due to a recurrence of her brain tumor and not related to the meningitis. The jury returned a verdict for the hospital on all claims.