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Patient sustained permanent disfigurement following repair — $800,000 settlement

Type of action: Medical malpractice

Injuries alleged: Acromion fracture, shoulder disfigurement and shoulder impairment

Name of judge or mediator: Judge J. Michael Gamble (Ret.)

Date resolved: 1/18/2023

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $800,000


Attorney for plaintiff: Anthony M. Segura, Roanoke

Description of case: This is an orthopedic medical malpractice case involving the performance and post-operative management of a rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty and distal clavicle excision.

The 60-year-old plaintiff alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgery practice deviated from the standard of care in two respects. First, the defendant’s surgeon excessively shaved the acromion during the procedure and caused it to fracture sometime between the surgery and the plaintiff’s six-week follow-up appointment. Second, the surgeon did not observe or document the plaintiff’s clinical signs and symptoms that were consistent with an acromion fracture during a six-week post-operative appointment.

Ultimately, the plaintiff’s acromion fracture was not diagnosed until nine months after the surgery, when she presented to an independent orthopedic surgeon for an unrelated wrist issue.

The plaintiff alleged that because of the untimely diagnosed fracture she was left with a permanently disfigured drooping shoulder and an inability to raise her dominant right arm above eye level. The plaintiff did not claim any medical expenses as damages because she did not undergo additional surgery, and because her expenses related to the diagnosis and evaluation of her fracture were not commensurate with the damages related to her disfigurement and impairment. Similarly, she did not claim lost wages because she took minimal time off from work and continues to work as a dental practice receptionist.

The defendant countered the plaintiff’s case and her sole orthopedic expert by designating two orthopedic experts of its own. They disputed the plaintiff’s claims regarding its employee’s deviations from the standard of care, the causation of injury and the extent of her damages.

The case did not resolve at mediation. With the assistance of the mediator, the case settled approximately one month before trial.

Plaintiff’s attorney Anthony M. Segura provided case information.