by Robert A. Fitch
Robert Fitch recently defended an oral surgeon in a malpractice case against the surgeon, a pathologist and a local hospital for missed diagnosis that resulted in catastrophic injuries.
The plaintiff was a 10-year-old girl when she came to our client for the removal of what appeared to be a benign cyst. This cyst was submitted to the codefendant hospital’s pathologist, who confirmed it was a benign cyst and thus no further treatment was rendered. Eight years later, plaintiff developed a much more aggressive and destructive lesion in the same area of her jaw that resulted from the previous cyst being misdiagnosed and not more aggressively treated. At age 20, she had her entire left mandible removed and replaced with a titanium plate and a full flap transplant from her fibula. This resulted in extensive facial scarring, leg scarring, loss of teeth, and the need for multiple future surgeries to complete the reconstruction with replacement of the implants and dental appliances every 10 to 15 years for the rest of her life.
Special damages were stipulated to at $180,000 and there was a $10 million demand starting the trial. The co-defendant hospital and pathologist settled out in the 7 figures during trial, and the case continued against the oral surgeon for his alleged failure to properly diagnose the lesion before removing it, performing an improper surgery since he did not know the true nature of the lesion, and failing to properly follow-up with treatment which could have resulted in discovery of the newly growing lesion. A $6 million demand was made in plaintiff’s summation and there was no offer made on the oral surgeon’s behalf.
The jury returned a defense verdict for the oral surgeon in Queens County, New York, which is well-known for large plaintiff verdicts.
Robert Fitch, a partner in the New York office, concentrates his practice in the defense of product liability, professional and medical malpractice and commercial motor vehicle litigation. He is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Bob has tried over 70 cases to verdict in the state and federal courts of New York. He has been rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell.