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New York jury awards parents $45 after botched surgery

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

We trust our surgeons to take the utmost care with procedures because they are highly trained and have taken an oath to “first, do no harm.” Sadly, that’s not always the way it works out: surgical errors happen. Careless surgeons make mistakes that can lead to permanent disabilities and even death.

That’s exactly what happened to one active 14-year-old boy from Long Island. His parents brought him to Manhattan to undergo a surgery for his scoliosis in 2002. The idea was to straighten out the severe curve in his spine. But what happened was a botched procedure that left four screws in the wrong place, leaving him paralyzed for life. The hospital claimed that he had had a stroke and that they had conducted a CT scan, a claim that turned out to be untrue.

He lived his life as best he could for eight more years, going to college, driving his own car and getting a job as a computer repairman. Then, in 2010, he died because of the paralysis he’d incurred from the surgery.

The trial in the New York State Supreme Court went on for six months, but it only took the jury three days to come up with the verdict: $45 million for the bereaved parents. The $45 million included $40 million in pain and suffering and divided the blame equally between the surgeon and the hospital.

In cases like these, the hospital and insurance company may try to skirt their responsibilities. An attorney may be able to gather evidence to help his or her clients get compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages and funeral costs.

Source:, “Jury in the Bronx Awards $45 Million for a Death After Surgery,” Anemona Hartocollis, May 29, 2015

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