Virginia Appellate Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Jury Verdict Based on a Lack of Causation Testimony

Earlier this year, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia medical malpractice case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that the defendant’s alleged negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The court considered the evidence presented by the plaintiff, and it ultimately determined that there was a gap in testimony. As a result, the jury verdict rendered in the plaintiff’s favor was reversed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor and arranged to have a laparoscopic hysterectomy performed. The defendant went over the risks of the procedure, and the plaintiff acknowledged the risks and opted to proceed nonetheless.

As a part of the procedure, the defendant needed to insert a small tube into the plaintiff’s abdomen. The first time the defendant attempted to do this, she realized it was too close to one of the organs in the abdomen, so she removed the tube and tried to insert it in a different location.

The defendant completed the surgery and checked to see if there was any injury or bleeding in the area where the tube was initially inserted. Not seeing any problems, the defendant completed the surgery. However, after the surgery, the plaintiff reported abdominal pain and difficulty urinating. The defendant continued to care for the plaintiff for a few months, but she ultimately passed the plaintiff off to a colleague. It was later discovered that the plaintiff’s bowel had been perforated.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant, claiming that it was negligent for her to have not recognized the perforated bowel and that her injuries were worsened by the defendant’s failure to consult with a surgeon immediately after the perforation was discovered. Importantly, the plaintiff abandoned her claim that the defendant was negligent in actually perforating her bowel.

In support of her claim, the plaintiff presented an expert witness, who testified to the standard of care a doctor in the defendant’s situation owed to the plaintiff, ultimately concluding that the defendant should have noticed the perforation and contacted a surgeon. However, the plaintiff did not present testimony regarding whether her condition would have been improved had a surgeon been consulted.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s failure to call a causation witness rendered her case insufficient as a matter of law. Essentially, the defendant’s argument was that, even if she was negligent, there was no evidence showing that the defendant’s negligence worsened the injuries that the plaintiff had already sustained. The court agreed and reversed the jury’s verdict that had been rendered in favor of the plaintiff.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit. As you can see from the above discussion, establishing that a medical professional was negligent is not always enough to win a case. The dedicated injury attorneys at the law offices of The Schupak Law Firm have extensive experience handling Virginia medical malpractice cases, and they work with a broad network of experts to help prove their clients’ cases. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

What Injury Victims Need to Know About Virginia’s Recreational Use Statute, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 20, 2018.

Obviousness of the Hazard in Virginia Premises Liability Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2018.

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