April 29, 2011
Gerald Toner successfully defended a general surgeon and his practice group in Jefferson Circuit Court. Plaintiff, a Crohn’s patient, alleged that the defendant surgeon failed to discover a fistula between her ileum and sigmoid colon in the course of two abdominal operations to correct a naturally occurring stricture of her terminal ileum in June 2007. Plaintiff’s expert, a highly renowned local surgeon, testified that the failure to discover the fistula resulted in pain and suffering as well as an inordinate number of emergency room visits and medical bills until it was ultimately discovered by a colorectal surgeon (the expert’s wife) in July 2008. Toner countered by establishing that fistula is a known complication of Crohn’s disease and could have arisen at any point in the thirteen months between June of 2007 and July of 2008. Further, as the defense pointed out, Plaintiff’s complaints throughout that time period were largely inconsistent with a fistula but entirely consistent with recurrent Crohn’s disease. In fact, her complaints between June of 2007 and July of 2008 were indistinguishable from her complaints prior to June 2007 and after July 2008, when the fistula was said to have been repaired. The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the surgeon following approximately twenty minutes of deliberation.