Attorney Blunder Wipes Out $20M Recovery For Mistaken Brain Surgery

This month, a Michigan Supreme Court threw out a $20 million verdict awarded to the Estate of an 81 year old woman who died after a surgeon operated on her brain by mistake and without consent. The family of the victim suffered two tragedies - death, and a zero for a recovery all caused by the carelessness of a hospital and an attorney. The patient was supposed to be treated for a dislocated jaw but due to a screw up involving the x-rays of another patient who needed immediate brain surgery, the patient who came for surgery on her jaw wound up having five holes drilled into her head with a portion of her skull removed. The patient died due to complications from the mistaken brain surgery.The hospital conceded it was negligent but denied any malpractice. Should be an easy case to win?

The patient's Estate brought suit under a negligence theory, which has no cap on the recovery as opposed to a malpractice theory which does - in Michigan. Early on the negligence claim was dismissed by a Judge who advised that the case could only be pursued on a malpractice theory. Rather than appeal the erroneous decision, the Estate's attorney's stipulated to the dismissal of the negligence claim in exchange for the right to file an amended complaint under a malpractice theory. When the case came to trial the attorney's for the Estate persuaded the trial Court to (wrongly) allow them to amend the complaint a second time to reassert the negligence theory, despite their having stipulated to its dismissal. The jury found in favor of the Estate on the negligence theory only and awarded $20 million. When the verdict was challenged on appeal by the hospital, the appellate Courts of Michigan agreed that as a result of legal errors by the Estate's attorneys and the trial Court--the Estate gets nothing!

The Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court summarized the tragedy: "This case involves a remarkable confluence of what appears to be both medical and legal dereliction resulting in an extraordinary miscarriage of justice." The only possible remedy for the family to pursue would be a legal malpractice suit based on the attorney's stipulation to the dismissal of the negligence theory and foregoing an appeal. However, you would still have to prove that the appeal would have been successful. Nayyar v Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts " and "Top New York Settlements." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He was a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!


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