Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Jury Awards $836,000 in Medical Malpractice Case Involving Surgical Complications

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Mar 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

The family of Karl Thomsen brought a medical malpractice case against Dr. Michael Nizzy and Munson Medical Center after Thomsen died from leukemia. A jury in the Circuit Court awarded the plaintiffs approximately $836,000 in compensation. Thomsen died from leukemia after he was forced to suspend his treatment of the disease due to complications from a surgical procedure. Thomsen has Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, which is a bariatric (weight loss) surgical procedure. Dr. Nizzy was alleged to have perforated Thomsen's bowel during the procedure, which caused “postoperative complications” including difficulty breathing and vomiting.

Alleged Negligence

Munson Medical Center was dismissed as a defendant in the claim leaving only Dr. Nizzy remaining. Nizzy was alleged to have not ordered proper testing prior to the surgical procedure and for failing to recommend a sleeve gastrectomy, which is believed to be a safer option. Over several years, Thomsen underwent several surgical procedures. He later endured another perforation in his bowel that the plaintiffs asserted was the result of the prior perforation.

The defense presented several medical experts, at least one of which stated that Dr. Nizzy had conducted the surgery correctly. After the jury returned their verdict, a defense attorney suggested that they intend to appeal because they do not agree with the ruling. They further referred to Nizzy as having a “sterling reputation” and that he had never before been deemed as negligent in the past. An attorney for the plaintiffs stated that the jury “paid close attention” and held the defendant “accountable” for substandard care. Thomsen is survived by his wife Jill and two daughters. Coincidentally, he had worked at Munson Medical Center as a nurse for many years.

Jury Award

The award of $836,000 included $500,000 in noneconomic damages associated with pain and suffering, as well as economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages. The noneconomic damages will ultimately be reduced to the state's statutory cap (limitation) of $465,900. The defense also must pay a significant portion of the plaintiff's attorney fees because they had refused an earlier settlement offer. This was said to be the first verdict in this county that favored the plaintiff in a case of medical malpractice for over 15 years.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) is a surgical procedure typically used for weight loss. Small incisions are made in the abdomen region to allow access to the stomach. The procedure significantly minimizes the size of the upper stomach by “stapling off” the area. The amount of food that the stomach is capable of holding is greatly diminished. The newly formed pouch is connected to the small intestine. The result is that when food is eaten, much of it is bypassed and the calories and fat are not absorbed.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

A vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a similar procedure used in bariatric (weight loss) surgery. After making incisions, approximately 80% of the stomach is actually removed. The stomach is reduced to a tube-like shape that is about the size of a banana.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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