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FITZPATRICK TAKES JURY DEFENSE VERDICT FOLLOWING BOTCHED OXYGEN TANK CONNECTION
John Fitzpatrick of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy, who was asked to take over the defense of a medical malpractice case against a hospital two weeks before trial, won a defense verdict. After release from the hospital following gall bladder surgery, a 62-year-old man developed severe abdominal pain. Four days post surgery, he returned to the hospital where lab tests showed that he was septic. Injury to the bile ducts during surgery was suspected. In preparing him for emergency surgery to repair the damage, hospital nurses inadvertently connected the patient to an empty oxygen tank. When they discovered the error, they oxygenated him and he recovered quickly. Unable to keep him stabilized, the surgery was postponed. Fifteen hours later, the patient died. Expert testimony early in the trial opined that death was due to aspiration caused by brain damage from lack of oxygen. Plaintiffs settled with the surgeon for $300K and proceeded against the hospital for $2 million. Fitzpatrick successfully argued that death resulted from a sudden heart arrhythmia caused by the underlying septic condition from two holes in the bile duct, not from lack of oxygen. The jury agreed.