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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber Wins $3.97 Million Verdict in a Medical Malpractice Case

CLEVELAND, Sept. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a one-and-a-half week jury trial, Nicholas DiCello and Kevin Hulick won a $3.97 million verdict against the Cleveland Clinic on behalf of their client, a 58-year old IT consultant. 

The Plaintiff suffered a facial nerve injury during a temporal artery biopsy procedure performed at the Cleveland Clinic in July, 2016.  Nick and Kevin claimed the surgeon negligently failed to localize Plaintiff's temporal artery before making her incision, which was placed in the wrong spot in an area where the facial nerve is located.  The procedure, which usually takes about 45 minutes, lasted over 2 hours.  The Cleveland Clinic denied liability.

After the procedure the Plaintiff woke up in terrible pain.  Her pain did not go away and she was eventually diagnosed with permanent facial nerve neuropathy (nerve pain) on the right side of her face.  She spent over a year seeing different doctors and trying different medications and treatments to relieve her pain, none of which were successful.  The Plaintiff eventually came under the care of a pain management doctor who prescribed, and continues to prescribe, monthly ketamine infusions to treat the pain.  In addition to denying liability, at trial the Cleveland Clinic argued the Plaintiff had failed to mitigate her damages – that ketamine therapy was not reasonable, was not sufficiently effective, and that the Plaintiff should try other treatments.  The Clinic's pain management expert opined that the Plaintiff should get a peripheral nerve stimulator implant and use opioid drugs.  In one of the highlights of the trial, Nick exposed the Clinic's expert's opinions and lack of credibility on cross-examination. 

The jury held the Cleveland Clinic responsible, finding its doctor was negligent and that her negligence caused the patient's permanent nerve injury and pain.  Furthermore, the jurors found 8-0 against the Clinic's failure to mitigate damages defense and awarded the Plaintiff the entire amount Nick requested in closing argument for a lifetime of ketamine treatment – over $2 million. The jury's verdict included $750,000 for past pain and suffering and $1 million for future pain and suffering.  This part of the jury's verdict was subject to a $350,000 non-economic damages cap applicable to medical negligence claims.  That is, the judge would have been required to reduce the jury's $1.75 million verdict for non-economic damages to $350,000

After the jury rendered its verdict on liability and compensatory damages, Judge Ashley Kilbane denied a motion by the defense and permitted the Plaintiff to go forward on her claim for punitive damages alleging the doctor acted with conscious disregard for the patient's safety.  Late into the night before the punitive damages phase was to begin, however, the parties reached a settlement for the full amount of the verdict.  The trial lawyers at Spangenberg were able to obtain the full measure of the jury's verdict for their client – $1.4 million over the damages cap.  "Being able to effectively enforce the jury's true verdict in this case, rather than having it arbitrarily reduced, made this result especially satisfying.  We are thrilled for our client," DiCello said.

Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP
1001 Lakeside Ave E # 1700,
Cleveland, OH 44114


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