Plaintiff v. Defendant Neurosurgeon

Synopsis:

The appellate court affirmed judgment on a jury verdict in a medical negligence action handled on appeal by Karen Kies DeGrand, Richard H. Donohue, James D. Sloan and Ashley E. Dus of Donohue Brown.

The decedent, a 40-year-old mother of three children, suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, causing bleeding in the patient’s brain. The aneurysm re-ruptured and resulted in additional bleeding and progressive cerebral edema (swelling). During the one-week trial, the jury heard from numerous medical experts who described the medical care in question and the aggressive nature of the cerebral edema that resulted from the ruptured aneurysm. Plaintiff contended that the defendant neurosurgeon failed to properly treat the patient’s deteriorating neurological condition. At trial, the defense established that the neurosurgeon complied with the standard of care and that no medication, intervention or invasive procedure by the defendant neurosurgeon could have resolved the underlying cause of the edema, which ultimately led to the patient’s death. The jury returned a verdict for the neurosurgeon.

On appeal, plaintiff claimed he was denied a fair trial based on defense counsel’s closing argument regarding causation and that the trial court erred in overruling plaintiff’s counsel’s objection to a portion of the defense argument on causation. The appellate court concluded that defense counsel correctly described proximate cause principles during closing argument. In the court’s view, defense counsel properly argued that plaintiff failed to prove a “lost chance” of recovery. The appellate court also held that, independent of the closing remarks on causation, the evidence sufficiently supported the jury’s verdict.

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