At 76-years-old, Victor Martinez underwent colon surgery to remove a cancerous mass at a community hospital. [i] In the days following the surgery, Victor went into septic shock. However, by the time he was brought back to surgery, the surgeon couldn’t save him.
Victor’s family, represented by Brett Panter and David Sampedro, pursued a complex medical malpractice case against the hospital. The family claimed that Victor was deteriorating the days following surgery and he did not receive the proper post-operative care. They also contended that the defendants all contributed to a lack of observation and a lack of diagnosis of “free air” in the patient’s abdomen, which is also known as peritoneum or abscess, which caused the patient to go into septic shock.
The case was defended vigorously by the community hospital, surgeon, radiologists, and other doctors. The defense argued that post-operative care was appropriate and that the community hospital was not liable for the radiologists. The family, in turn, argued that even if they were not vicariously liable for the radiological care, that they were liable for their nurses failing to promptly diagnose the problem and promptly notify the doctors. The doctors defended at least, in part, by claiming that they were never properly, completely, and adequately notified of the patient’s condition. The defense was also to argue and assert that the plaintiff had colon cancer, which may have affected his life expectancy.
The case proceeded to mediation and did not settle. The parties continued to work on preparation for trial and on the Friday before the Monday in which the trial was scheduled to begin, the matter was settled with all defendants for a confidential amount. By agreement of the parties the terms and further details of the settlement cannot be disclosed.
The plaintiff retained surgical, radiological, internal medicine, and nursing experts from around the country, all of whom were deposed and the defense had a similar cast of experts. All discovery in this matter was completed which included 13 fact witnesses and 5 expert witnesses that came from many areas of specialty, including but not limited to radiology, cardiology, internal medicine, surgery, pulmonology, and nursing.
[i] The names of all parties have been changed to protect their confidentiality.