Michael G. Sabo is a Partner and resides in Rawle & Henderson’s Philadelphia office. His practice includes matters in the areas of catastrophic loss, medical malpractice, product liability, construction accidents, industrial accidents and general liability. An experienced litigator, Mr. Sabo has tried a number of cases to verdict himself, and as second chair with Partner Jack Snyder. His caseload typically ranges from traumatic brain injuries to severe burns to quadriplegia.
Prior to entering the legal profession, Mr. Sabo worked for many years in the shipping industry as a member of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA). His history and work experience give him a unique perspective and knowledge base that has proven to be an invaluable asset to the firm’s Catastrophic Loss Group.
Mr. Sabo is rated BV by Martindale-Hubbell.
Selected Representative Matters:
Medical Malpractice, alleged surgical error (Philadelphia County, PA) – Plaintiff was a 38-year-old woman who underwent surgery for an inguinal hernia performed by Mr. Sabo’s client, a general surgeon, who performed an inguinal exploration, neurolysis, and repair of right inguinal hernia with Surgipro mesh. Plaintiff alleged that following the procedure she developed new, severe right groin, thigh and back pain, and underwent a subsequent surgery performed by a different surgeon as a result. Plaintiff alleged at the time of the second procedure, the subsequent treating surgeon found one of the tacks that was holding the mesh in place going directly through the ilioinguinal nerve (a branch of the first lumbar nerve) with multiple other tacks going into the pubic symphysis (a secondary cartilaginous joint located between the left and right pubic bones). Plaintiff claimed she suffered injury and permanent damage to her ilioinguinal nerve, pubic symphysis and other internal organs, which caused pain, continued persistent numbness in her thigh and groin area, as well as severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, and emotional distress. She and her husband, also a Plaintiff, claimed this caused her difficulty with living, and severely affected their sex life and her ability to enjoy intercourse. Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1 million. After five days of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Sabo’s client and other Defendants, finding no negligence.
Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death (Philadelphia County, PA) – Plaintiff’s decedent, a 66-year-old woman, underwent endoscopy and colonoscopy performed by defendant gastroenterologist. The upper endoscopy showed evidence of non-erosive esophageal reflux disease. A biopsy of the distal esophagus taken at the time suggested only gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). There was no evidence of intestinal metaplasia (a precancerous condition requiring treatment). Decedent subsequently presented to the emergency department with severe abdominal pain radiating to her mid-back, with nausea and vomiting for approximately four days prior. She was immediately sent to interventional radiology and underwent an IR thrombectomy (a procedure to remove a blood clot) of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) which had been noted to completely thrombosed. She also underwent an exploratory laparotomy, with removal of adhesions, small bowel resection of approximately 30 cm and placement of a wound vac for the resulting open abdomen. Subsequently, the entire small bowel had become ischemic (restricted in blood supply) and was unresectable at that time. She was then placed on comfort care with withdrawal of all other care. According to the certificate of death, the primary cause was cardiac arrest, secondary cause was bowel ischemia. Plaintiff alleged failure on the part of Mr. Sabo’s client, a gastroenterologist, to order a CT scan immediately following the endoscopy and colonoscopy. Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1.7 million. The parties agreed to submit the matter to an arbitration with the arbitrator finding in favor of defendants.
Promoter Liability, Wrongful Death/Personal Injuries (Philadelphia County, PA) – Mr. Sabo was retained on behalf of a national racecar promoter after the close of discovery in a consolidated action involving three plaintiffs, two of whom were injured and one of whom was killed as a result of a lightning strike at a raceway in upstate Pennsylvania. The decedent was 41 years old and was survived by his wife and three children. The surviving Plaintiffs were 38 years old and also had wives and children. Plaintiffs contended the raceway and the promoter failed to provide advanced warnings about the dangers of lightning to spectators and that both had obligations to do so. Plaintiffs claimed that after the race they were in the parking lot at their vehicle tailgating, at which time they were struck by lightning. Despite having admitted that they had reached the safety of their vehicle when the incident occurred, Plaintiffs alleged that if Defendants had properly advised fans of the impending storm and stopped the race at the time they first received severe weather warning, Plaintiffs and other fans would have had sufficient time to seek shelter before the lightning strikes began. Plaintiffs’ demands at trial totaled $17.5 million, not including additional punitive damages. After 10 days of trial the jury returned a defense verdict finding no negligence on the part of Mr. Sabo’s client, the national promoter, and no causation on the part of the co-defendant raceway.
Construction, wrongful death (Camden County, New Jersey) – Plaintiff’s decedent was a 26-year-old laborer who was killed when he fell from a ladder and was crushed by an 800 pound I-beam. Through exhaustive and sometimes contentious discovery, Mr. Sabo was able to prove that decedent caused the accident by violating known job safety rules. It was also proven that decedent was illegally in the United States and suffered a nominal pecuniary loss as a result. The case resolved for a nominal amount at mediation.
Construction, paraplegia, total disability (Philadelphia County PA) – Mr. Sabo sat second chair with lead Counsel Jack Snyder. The 37-year-old plaintiff fell from a residential construction site and was rendered a paraplegic with chronic, unremitting pain. Plaintiff demanded $37.5 million but, during the Defendant’s case-in-chief, the case settled before a Philadelphia jury in the amount of $8 million.
Construction, paraplegia, total disability (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiff was 39 years old when he fell two stories during demolition of a condemned house. As a result of his accident, he was rendered an incomplete paraplegic. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant was negligent in its supervision of the job site and safety. Plaintiff’s demand was $9.5 million. Defendant argued that its oversight was proper and that the party at fault was Plaintiff, who knew demolition work was dangerous, had performed demolitions in the past, and knew that any part of a building could collapse at any time. The case resolved at mediation for $4 million.
Medical malpractice, informed consent, wrongful death (Philadelphia County PA) – In a case of first impression, Mr. Sabo successfully argued to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that a hospital, as a matter of law, could not be held vicariously liable for the alleged failure of one of its employee physicians to obtain a patient’s informed consent to a procedure. Valles v. Albert Einstein Medical Center, et al, 805 A.2d 1232 (Pa. 2002)
Medical malpractice, failure to diagnose (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiff alleged that Defendant hospital and its emergency room physician were negligent for failing to discover and remove a foreign object from plaintiff’s cheek following an accident. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
Medical malpractice, wrongful death (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiff alleged Defendant was negligent in failing to perform surgery on her decedent. Plaintiff’s demand was in excess of $1 million. Following trial the jury was deadlocked. The case was then submitted to an arbitration with a finding in favor of the client.
Medical malpractice, shoulder dystocia, birth-related injury (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiffs alleged Defendant maternal fetal medicine specialists were negligent in the prenatal care and delivery of the minor Plaintiff, resulting in shoulder dystocia. Due to her injury, minor Plaintiff underwent a series of surgeries to alleviate her brachial plexus injury. Plaintiffs’ demand was $7 million. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all Defendants.Medical malpractice, wrongful death, thyroid storm (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiff’s decedent presented to the Defendant Medical Center with a chief complaint of syncope with shortness of breath, lightheadedness and a racing heartbeat. She had a four-day history of increasing shortness of breath, positive history of asthma, sweats/chills and vomiting. The clinical suspicion was thyroid storm. The following day she suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest. The patient was resuscitated and intubated but expired several weeks later. Plaintiff contended that the care and treatment, particularly the medications administered in the first 24 hours of presentation, caused decedent’s collapse and ultimately her death. Plaintiff’s demand had been $3 million. During arbitration, Mr. Sabo was able to prove that all care and treatment was appropriate, thus finding in favor of the client.
Medical malpractice, wrongful death, thyroid storm (Philadelphia County PA) – Plaintiff’s Decedent had a long and complicated medical history prior to the admission to defendant nursing home. While in the defendant’s facility, he developed pressure sores, change in mental status, renal failure, and was involved in an incident wherein he suffered a burn from hot coffee. Plaintiff’s demand was $7 million. As a result of exhaustive discovery and close consultation with numerous medical experts, Mr. Sabo was prepared to prove that decedent’s medical problems were the result of his pre-existing conditions and the case resolved prior to trial for $150,000.00.
Medical malpractice, battery, civil rights violation (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania) – A 9-month-old male in foster care was brought to the Defendant’s emergency department (ED) by a social worker with facial bruising (the child was designated a Trauma Level 2.) The social worker had retrieved the child from a foster home and brought the child to the ED, stating the child had a history of falling out of a high chair. Allegedly, the ED trauma resident failed to notify police and failed to obtain consent for treatment (battery) from the natural parents of the child. The child was transferred to a pediatric facility after a fractured skull was diagnosed. Plaintiff alleged civil rights violations and medical negligence. The court granted Mr. Sabo’s motion and dismissed the case.
Delaware Law School of Widener University, Wilmington DE (J.D. 1989)
LaSalle College, Philadelphia PA (B.A. 1984)