Partner Erik Kapner recently received a defense verdict in Suffolk County Supreme Court following a 2-week trial. The case involved a 50-year-old woman who had developed diverticulitis of the colon and was admitted to the hospital under the care of defendant, a general surgeon. The plaintiff's diverticulitis was treated conservatively with bowel rest and antibiotics. She developed a perforation which caused an abscess and the defendant doctor performed an exploratory laparotomy but could not locate the source of perforation in sigmoid colon. He therefore drained the abscess, inserted a drain tube and did not perform a colostomy. Post operatively she developed a fistula which was managed conservatively. After discharge from the hospital, the fistula broke down and she required readmission to the hospital. A colostomy was performed by another surgeon and was later reversed at another hospital after 6 months.
Plaintiff claimed. Mr. Kapner asserted the defenses claims that the defendant doctor used his best judgment and given his operative findings properly sought to avoid a colostomy during exploratory laparotomy. The jury returned a unanimous verdict of no liability on behalf of the defendant doctor. Of interest is that following a major snowstorm only 5 jurors remained and the parties stipulated to verdict by 5 jurors, which had to be unanimous.