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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Surgeon clipped, cut bile duct during procedure — $1,250,000 verdict

Surgeon clipped, cut bile duct during procedure — $1,250,000 verdict

Type of action: Medical malpractice

Injuries alleged: Negligent performance of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy leading to additional hospitalization and surgical repair

Name of case: Davis v. Sanders and Virginia Surgery Associates

Court: Fairfax County Circuit Court

Case no.: CL21-12105

Name of judge or mediator: Judge Grace Burke Carroll

Date resolved: 5/27/2022

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $1,250,000

Attorneys for plaintiff (and city): Travis W. Markley, James N. Knaack and Benjamin M. Wengerd, Reston

Description of case: Plaintiff Geraldine Davis, a 61-year-old female, presented to Inova Mount Vernon

Hospital on the night of April 11, 2020, with acute abdominal pain and persistent emesis, which led to a fairly quick diagnosis of acute cholecystitis. Late in the morning of April 12, 2020, general surgeon Dr. Enoch Sanders Jr. took Davis to surgery for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which was charted as uneventful and without complication. Later, at his deposition, Sanders would characterize the surgery as “textbook” and confirm that he had absolutely no difficulty visualizing the relevant anatomy. Davis was discharged from the hospital the next day, despite continuing to suffer abdominal pain and dark urine.

Eight days after her discharge home from Inova Mount Vernon Hospital on April 13, Davis returned to the hospital emergency department for evaluation of her deteriorating condition. Mrs. Davis was admitted, and diagnostic testing confirmed a bile leak secondary to common bile duct injuries. During that hospitalization, Davis underwent multiple drainage procedures by interventional radiology, placement of multiple drains and planning for a future significant reconstruction of her biliary tree.

Davis underwent an exploratory laparotomy on June 1. Her hepatobiliary surgeon confirmed that during the index laparoscopic cholecystectomy, Sanders had clipped and cut the common bile duct and cut the common hepatic duct, resulting in the removal of a segment of her common duct between the two transections. To repair these injuries, he performed a Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy, rerouting a portion of her small bowel to replace the segment injured common duct. By the end of her treatment for her biliary injuries, Davis had been hospitalized for an additional 13 days in April and June 2020, undergone multiple inpatient bile drainage procedures, had to live with and maintain drains for eight weeks, and underwent the Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy for definitive repair of the damage done.

Each party elected to call a single general surgery expert on the standard of care issues at trial. The parties’ experts offered starkly different perspectives on the required surgical technique for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, known as the Critical View of Safety. Causation and damages were essentially uncontested in the case and both experts agreed that the more than $258,000 in medicals that Davis incurred were a direct result of Sanders’ surgery. The defense argued to the jury that Davis made a good recovery from the repair and has suffered no complications requiring further medical intervention to date. Despite that position, the experts both agreed that Davis remains at heightened risk for significant medical problems going into the future because of having to undergo the hepaticojejunostomy.

The five-day jury trial culminated with deliberations of approximately three hours before the jury awarded $1.25 million to Davis.

James Knaack, plaintiff’s counsel, provided case information. [022-T-089]