Williams v. Defendant Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Practice Group

  • Cook County, Illinois (Judge Donald J. Suriano)09/05/2014
    Client: Defendant Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Practice Group
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

Cynthia Williams, age 39, had three children and had experienced complications from many different methods of birth control and desired sterilization. The plaintiffs also claimed that Mrs. Williams desired a tubal ligation because she and her husband already had one child with sickle cell disease and they did not want to have another child with the disease. Mrs. Williams saw the defendant ob/gyn at his office on December 8, 2008, and requested a tubal ligation. Mrs. Williams had scheduled a tubal ligation in 2005 that the defendant ob/gyn's former partner was unable to perform because Mrs. Williams was unable to be intubated.  Mrs. Williams had a history of two prior C-section deliveries. Mrs. Williams gave the defendant ob/gyn a history that she a left sided salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the her left ovary and left tube) when she was in 7th grade, however,  an abdominal and vaginal ultrasound done on March 6, 2004, indicated that her right ovary had been surgically removed and identified a cystic interface in the left ovary. A copy of the ultrasound report was contained within office chart. The defendant ob/gyn performed a mini-laparotomy and right tubal ligation under spinal anesthesia on December 30, 2008.  During the procedure, the defendant ob/gyn identified a tube on the right side of the uterus and an ovary.  On the left side he identified a large amount of pelvic adhesions including adhesions of the uterus anteriorly with omentum across the left side.  He could not visualize a tube or ovary on the left due to the adhesions. 

The defendant ob/gyn performed a tubal ligation on the right sided tube using a modified Pomeroy technique.  He chose not to take down the adhesions on the left side given the patient's prior history of having her left ovary and left tube surgically removed which was consistent with the adhesions he found on the left side during the procedure.  Mrs. Williams returned to see the defendant ob/gyn in the office for post-surgical care and in June 2010, she had a positive pregnancy test.  Mrs. Williams then transferred her care. Her pre-natal care was uncomplicated.  Her new ob/gyn performed a C-section delivery of Kennadi Williams and bilateral tubal ligation on February 1, 2010.  After delivering the baby, the ob/gyn did not find an ovary on the right side but he found a tube on the right that he described as foreshortened and wrapped around itself.  The ob/gyn testified at trial, based upon this finding, that he did not believe that the defendant performed a tubal ligation on the right sided tube. On the left side, the  encountered a large amount of dense adhesions.  The ob/gyn then took down the adhesions on the left side and discovered an intact left tube and left ovary.  The ob/gyn then performed a bilateral tubal ligation.  Genetic testing revealed that Kennadi had sickle cell disease type SC.  Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant ob/gyn deviated from the standard of care by failing to properly evaluate Mrs. Williams prior to performing the tubal ligation and failing to take down the adhesions on the left side and tie both of her tubes.  The defense contended that the defendant ob/gyn performed an adequate preoperative work-up and that further evaluation would not have provided any new information as to the status of Mrs. Williams' reproductive organs.  The defense also contended that the risks of taking down the adhesions on the left side outweighed the potential benefits given that Mrs. Williams' history was of having her left ovary and tube removed was uncontroverted and the presence of adhesions on the left side was consistent with that history. 

Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury to award $1.5 million dollars in damages.  The jury found in favor of the defendants.