Morrison Mahoney Partner Peter Knight and Associate Pavan Nagavelli received a defense verdict after a one-week jury trial in Essex County Superior Court – Lawrence.
The plaintiff, a 63-year-old woman, alleged that she suffered post-operative complications two months after our client, a neurosurgeon, performed a discectomy. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that our client was negligent in failing to diagnose and treat her cauda equina syndrome (compression of spinal nerve roots) with high-dose steroids, resulting in alleged permanent injuries including bladder and bowel incontinence. The case was interesting in that our client’s medical partner treated the plaintiff and agreed with plaintiff’s theory that she suffered from cauda equina syndrome and that treatment with high-dose steroids was appropriate. We denied the diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome and denied the efficacy of treating this condition with high-dose steroids.
Under Peter’s cross-examination, plaintiff’s expert, a neurologist, was forced to apologize to the jury for making misleading comments as to plaintiff’s medical records. He further conceded that he was not a neuroradiologist nor neurosurgeon and stated that he would defer to their expertise and opinions regarding diagnosing and treating cauda equina syndrome. He also retracted his claim that the plaintiff suffered any bowel incontinence that was related to the alleged cauda equina syndrome and admitted that it was actually a baseline condition that predated plaintiff’s discectomy. Lastly, plaintiff’s expert admitted that there was no medical literature to support his claim that administering high-dose steroids is an effective treatment for cauda equina syndrome. The jury deliberated for approximately one hour before returning a defense verdict of no negligence.