Ruiz v. Defendant Bariatric Surgeon

  • Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (Simmons)10/17/2007
    Counsel: Sherri M. Arrigo
    Client: Defendant Bariatric Surgeon
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

Plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to initiate IV antibiotics and transfer 34-year-old female patient (employed wife and mother of two young children) to ICU when she developed a fever and abnormal vital signs one day after defendant performed gastric bypass surgery.

The defendant ordered lab work, increased IV fluids, medications, and a STAT upper GI x-ray, which was negative for a surgical leak. Upon return from x-ray, the patient's vital signs were improved and she reported feeling better.

However, approximately two hours later, nurses found the patient in bed, unresponsive, pulseless and not breathing. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Blood culture results came back after the death showing three different types of bacteria in the bloodstream. An autopsy revealed massive liver necrosis.

Plaintiff claimed that the patient died of sepsis resulting in acute liver failure.

Defendant successfully argued that defendant complied with the standard of care, the patient was not clinically septic, and the patient's acute liver failure and death were caused by non-oxidative stress from surgery in a morbidly obese patient.

Plaintiff's counsel had asked the jury to award in excess of $8 million. A verdict was returned for the defense.