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Martin, Gleaton: Trial Wins

Posted December 9, 2008 in News

Partner Rolfe Martin and associate Mark Meliski successfully defended a surgeon at a trial ending in a defense verdict in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia on November 7, 2008.

The case involved the death of a thirty-one year old nurse, mother of three, who died after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.  Plaintiffs alleged the standard of care required the placement of a g-tube at the time of surgery.  They argued this "simple $68 safety device" would have prevented the perforation of the patient's bowel which, they asserted, caused her to develop sepsis and multiple organ failure and to ultimately die.  The preoperative educational materials and consent forms all indicated a g-tube would be placed at the time of surgery.

Defendant countered that the patient was counseled and consented for a g-tube as part of a well-informed educational process in case one became necessary as a result of complications but a g-tube was not indicated at the time of this patient's surgery. 

The Plaintiff asked the jury to return an award of $8,000,000 to $10,000,000 in damages.  After deliberating for three hours the jury returned a defense verdict.

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In a trial ending on December 3, OGEJS partner Fred Gleaton and associate Mark Sperry successfully defended an obstetric malpractice case through trial and defense verdict in the Superior Court of Gordon County, Georgia. 

The minor plaintiff's mother became pre-ecclamptic at 36 weeks and presented to the client obstetric group.  The decision was made to induce labor and proceed toward vaginal delivery, though the mother claimed at trial that she had insisted up c-section delivery.  The mother had a prior difficult delivery of a 5 lb. 11 oz. child.  Ultrasound three days prior to delivery estimated the weight of this baby at 7 ½ to 8 ¼ lbs.  Labor proceeded rapidly and without difficulty until a shoulder dystocia was encountered.  The delivering obstetrician delivered in three minutes, employing McRoberts' maneuver, suprapubic pressure, episioproctotomy, and Woods' screw maneuver.  The baby was left with a permanent brachial plexus injury and medical expenses in excess of $200,000.

Plaintiff alleged the standard of care required defendants (OB and group) to deliver this baby by c-section based upon the history of mother's first delivery, estimated fetal weight by ultrasound, fetal abdominal circumference by ultrasound, abnormally increased fundal height, and patient's alleged preference.

Defendants contended that the standard of care was met because the prior delivery did not involve a true shoulder dystocia, the fundal height was unreliable because of the mother's obesity, the ultrasound predicted weights did not meet levels at which ACOG recommended universal c-section, and that the mother expressed a preference for vaginal delivery, contrary to her testimony at trial.

The jury deliberated for approximately one hour and five minutes before returning a unanimous defense verdict.