January 2020 

HPS Attorneys Successfully Defend Orthopedic Surgeon Against $21 Million Negligence Claim

In January 2020, HPS attorneys Amy Kane and Sapna Lalmalani secured a defense verdict for their clients in a case arising out of a surgical repair of complex acetabular fractures and a sacral fracture.

In March 2014, the plaintiff was hit by a pickup truck and was taken to a Chicago area hospital for treatment of her injuries. The defendant, an orthopedic surgeon, was consulted and performed surgery on a specialized orthopedic traction table, which required positioning the patient’s feet in traction boots. Due to various factors, the surgery was over 10 hours in length, and there was no criticism of the length of the procedure. Post-operatively, the plaintiff complained of numbness and pain in both feet. The plaintiff asserted that the numbness and pain did not resolve and continued to the present day. The records indicated that the plaintiff’s pain and numbness improved, but then returned months later and worsened over time.

The plaintiff asserted at trial that the defendant orthopedic surgeon failed to properly position Ms. Buhler’s feet during the surgery, resulting in compromised blood supply and compression of the nerves which caused compartment syndrome and compressive neuropathy to her feet. The defense argued that the orthopedic surgeon carefully and appropriately placed the boots on the patient before surgery and monitored the patient’s feet during the course of the surgery. The defense further argued that the plaintiff’s current complaints were not due to compressive neuropathy and that there were multiple possibilities which could cause her complaints and for which additional testing was needed.

At the end of a two-week trial, the plaintiff asked for $21 million from the jury for the plaintiff’s alleged pain and suffering, loss of normal life, and disfigurement. The jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes before returning a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendants.