Trief & Olk Reaches Settlement on Complex Lap Choly Claim

Trief & Olk recently reached a settlement of $475,000 on a complex medical malpractice laparoscopic cholecystectomy claim in Queens County, New York.

Unlike some of the more typical laparoscopic cholecystectomy cases, the recent case did not involve claims of a transected common bile duct.  Rather, the claim involved allegations that the doctor failed to completely remove the gallbladder and failed to close off the remaining portion of the gallbladder, such that bile was allowed to leak into the plaintiff’s abdominal cavity for days before the injury was discovered.  Plaintiff’s course of recovery was slow and involved multiple hospitalizations, ERCPs, and a corrective surgical procedure to close off the remaining portion of her gallbladder.

Trief & Olk argued that the defendant doctor committed malpractice by (a) failing to convert to an open procedure when the doctor realized that issues with the plaintiff’s anatomy (scar tissue from a recent Caesarean-section delivery) prevented the doctor from performing a complete laparoscopic cholecystectomy; (b) failing to close the gallbladder after deciding to perform a partial cholecystectomy; and (c) failing to monitor the patient such that the leak was allowed to persist for days before any intervention.

Defendant argued that the procedure could not be converted to an open procedure because of risks associated with plaintiff’s refusal of blood transfusions, based on plaintiff’s religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.  Defendant also argued that the decision to switch to a partial cholecystectomy was a proper alternative to switching to an open procedure.  Finally, defendant claimed that cauterization of the area without visualization was sufficient to prevent biliary leaks.

Trief & Olk were ready to proceed to trial when the defendant finally agreed to engage in settlement discussions.  After negotiation, the defendant eventually agreed to pay slightly less than a half-million dollars.  The settlement was particularly impressive given the fact that the plaintiff, a stay-at-home mother, did not have any claims for lost wages and her future pain and suffering was largely based on her subjective complaints.

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