Pa. Fed. Jury Awards Couple $625K Over Needless Surgery
By Y. Peter Kang
Law360, Los Angeles (March 21, 2017, 6:15 PM EDT) A
Pennsylvania federal jury awarded a New Jersey couple $625,000 in a medical malpractice suit accusing a doctor of performing an
unnecessary surgery but cleared two other doctors of liability, according to documents filed in federal court Monday.
Following a four day trial, and about three hours of deliberation, the jury determined that gynecologist Dr. Tuan A. Le was responsible for an unnecessary surgery performed on Natisha Almeida to remove a noncancerous mass the doctor believed to be the size of a potato, which turned out to be nothing. The jury cleared radiologists Drs. Paul Adelizzi and Mark Silidker, who were accused of negligently analyzing an ultrasound and a pelvic CT scan, respectively, that Le purportedly relied on in making his diagnosis.
An attorney for Almeida told Law360 on Tuesday that his client was “incredibly pleased” with the outcome, given that Le had offered $100,000 to settle and they made a counter offer of $400,000. He also praised the jury for its service.
“I was very impressed by how rapt the jury was and how attentive they were to the evidence from both sides,” said Tony Baratta of Baratta Russell & Baratta. “They were really trying to do the right thing and figure this out. I said in my closing that regardless of the outcome of the case, I know my client received a fair trial given how attentive the jury was. I was very impressed.”
On Tuesday, Almeida and her husband Bruce Robinson filed a petition with the court requestingapproximately $37,000 in delay damages, which are essentially sanctions allowed under state law
for failure to settle a matter promptly. Almeida said Pennsylvania court rules allow such a requestbecause the verdict exceeded 125 percent of Le’s previous settlement offer of $100,000.
Representatives for the other parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
According to the second amended complaint, Almeida visited Doylestown Women’s Health Center LLC in 2013 complaining to Le of pelvic pressure and rectal bleeding.
Adelizzi analyzed the patient’s transvaginal ultrasound and said there was a mass present near Almeida’s left ovary and recommended a pelvic CT scan with “rectal contrast” in order to provide further evaluation, but Le allegedly ordered a CT scan without rectal contrast, according to the suit.
An analysis of that CT scan by Silidker said there was a “somewhat poorly defined solid mass” and recommended a pelvic MRI with contrast, but again, Le allegedly failed to order such a test and instead recommended an exploratory surgery of Almeida’s abdomen, which was performed on May 10, 2013, and failed to reveal any mass.
“On May 13, 2013, defendant Le called plaintiff on the telephone. He explained that the MRI revealed that what he thought was a tumor was instead ‘a shadow’ and that there was nothing to be worried about,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff then said to defendant Le ‘I had surgery for’ she paused, to which defendant Le responded, filling in the pause, ‘Nothing.’”
The suit claims that due to Le’s alleged negligence, Almeida endured severe temporary pain,permanent scarring, infertility and surgical removal of her left fallopian tube, among other injuries.
The couple is represented by Anthony J. Baratta and Andrew E. Dipiero Jr. of Baratta Russell & Baratta.
Le is represented by George H. Knoell III of Kane Pugh Knoell & Driscoll.
Adelizzi and Silidker are represented by Jacqueline R. Drygas and James P. Kilcoyne of Kilcoyne & Nesbitt LLC.
The case is Natisha Almeida et. al. v. Tuan A. Le et. al., case number 2:14cv06674,in the U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
by Alyssa Miller.
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