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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Woman sustained compression fracture after fall from ladder — Defense verdict

Woman sustained compression fracture after fall from ladder — Defense verdict

Type of action: Medical malpractice

Injuries alleged: Permanent back pain and disability after a L1 compression fracture

Court: Arlington Circuit Court

Case no.: Cl 19-1044

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge or mediator: Judge Louise M. DiMatteo

Date resolved: 11/3/2022

Special damages: $200,000 in past medical expenses

Demand: $2,000,000

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $0 (defense)

Attorneys for defendant (and city): Byron J. Mitchell and Tia Lane, Alexandria

Description of case: On Jan. 22, 2016, plaintiff Joanne Stancil, 67, fell backward off a six-foot ladder while sweeping snow off the roof of her home’s sunroom. She crawled inside, was taken to the Mt. Vernon Hospital ER, diagnosed with an L1 compression/burst fracture and admitted. Kyphoplasty was considered but ultimately deemed to be contraindicated because Stancil’s pain improved during her three-day hospitalization. A week later, Stancil followed up with the defendant spine surgeon and his PA, who elected to treat her conservatively with a back brace for a month followed by physical therapy. Despite conservative treatment over the course of three months, the plaintiff’s L1 fracture collapsed further and she sought a second opinion at the Washington Hospital Center, who performed a four-level decompression and fusion in June 2016. The plaintiff sued the defendants, alleging negligent treatment of her L1 compression/burst fracture caused her to undergo surgery and left her with permanent pain and disability. The defense theme was that their conservative approach was appropriate and that some L1 compression/burst fractures respond to treatment and some do not. Stancil, unfortunately, fell in the latter category. After four days of evidence, the jury deliberated for two hours before returning a defense verdict.

Byron J. Mitchell, counsel for the defendant, provided case information.