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Case Study: Gallbladder Removal Surgery Results in Death

Case Study

Gallbladder Removal Surgery Results in Death

We recently obtained a $1.6 million verdict on behalf of the estate of a 50+ year-old woman and her surviving husband and children. This medical malpractice and wrongful death case arose out of what should have been a routine gallbladder removal surgery.

However, instead of placing surgical clips on the woman’s cystic duct and cystic artery (the only two structures that should have clips placed on them during this surgery) the surgeon negligently placed two surgical clips on our client’s common hepatic duct. This important tube connects the liver to the intestines through which bile flows in order to help us all digest food.  Surgical clips should never be placed on the common hepatic duct during a gallbladder removal surgery.  The surgeon failed to recognize that he had placed these clips on our client’s common hepatic duct prior to closing her up.  These clips caused the woman’s common hepatic duct to become progressively obstructed over the ensuing months. The obstruction ultimately blocked the flow of bile out of her liver.  In turn, the woman developed jaundice, liver and kidney failure and ultimately died.

Due to the intervening Covid pandemic-related court closures, this case took over three years to get to trial following its filing.  During that time, our medical malpractice attorneys retained a general surgeon, hepatobiliary ( transplant) surgeon, radiologist and an economist as expert witnesses in this case.  We also took the depositions of each of the experts designated by the defense to support the surgeon.  This included 2 surgeons from two of the most prestigious hospitals in the country and a radiologist.  Additionally, we took the depositions of a local gastroenterologist and hepatobiliary surgeon who not only treated our client, but whose testimony supported her claims in this case.  In all, we conducted 14 depositions during the discovery phase prior to trial.

Trial in this case lasted 2 weeks, with 14 witnesses being called.  Prior to and during the trial, our attorneys worked closely with a trial consultant to develop key illustrations and demonstrative exhibits of the relevant human anatomy and radiological imaging (CT scans and MRIs) to aid the jury in understanding this complex case.  We also produced an extensive digital and video presentation. This presentation allowed the jury to see and hear our deceased client, view the relevant medical records, and follow along with the testimony of the various expert witnesses.

It is our firm belief at Bennett & Heyman that complex cases require not only extensive preparation and a thorough understanding of the medicine, but also the ability to present our client’s case in a detailed, modern and persuasive manner – one that surpasses that of the defense, which is usually operating with a limitless budget to defend their doctors.  It is this approach that we believe is a driving factor in the successes that our clients enjoy at trial.