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Johnson, Vickrey Secure Verdict for Defense. Plaintiff Sought $800K for Post-Op Hospital Fall

April 24, 2019

Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Matthew L. Johnson, and Associate Attorney, Caroline K. Vickrey, secured a defense verdict for their hospital client in a trial in DuPage County.  Plaintiff sought $800,000 in damages, claiming the hospital, its physical therapists and nurses were negligent in a post-op transfer to a bedside commode.  Plaintiff had undergone a lumbar laminectomy and fusion surgery with removal of a degenerative epidural cyst, and experienced knee buckling and weakness post-operatively.  Plaintiff alleged that the hospital and its staff failed to communicate the knee buckling to his physicians and failed to take proper precautions to prevent a post-op fall. Ultimately, plaintiff’s knee buckled as a nurse was transferring him to the bedside commode, and he experienced a “hard sit.”  Plaintiff claimed the nurse should have used a gait belt or had a second nurse assisting him, and that as a result of the “hard sit”, his spinal hardware moved and caused injuries, including a second revision surgery, a month-long inpatient rehab, deep vein thrombosis and an infection necessitating a third surgery. Plaintiff also claimed permanent injuries of left leg weakness and an inability to walk without a cane.  The defense presented physical therapy and nursing experts to opine that the hospital nursing and PT staff met the standard of care in terms of communication, documentation and transfers.  In addition, the defense presented a neurosurgery expert to opine that plaintiff’s injuries were the result of the nerve root injury sustained as a complication of the original fusion surgery which removed the cyst from the plaintiff’s spinal cord -- not from the “hard sit” at the commode.  Prior to trial, plaintiff’s settlement demand was $400,000.  Defense offered $150,000.  At trial, plaintiff asked for damages approaching $800,000.  After three hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant hospital and its staff.

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