McGauley v. Williams
Congratulations Dick Womble and Meredith Stephens for obtaining a defense verdict for Dr. Williams in the McGauley case.
Plaintiff alleged that Dr. Williams negligently performed a vertebroplasty that was not indicated because Mr. McGauley had osteomyelitis and a burst fracture. Plaintiff also alleged that Dr. Williams used too much cement, which caused a rupture at the adjacent vertebral body, and resulted Mr. Gauley’s becoming paralyzed. Plaintiff also claimed that Dr. Williams failed to obtain informed consent for the procedure and Dr. Williams fraudulently signed the consent form after the surgery. Plaintiff asked for damages in excess of $3 million dollars, representing Mr. McGauley’s pain and suffering between the date of the surgery and his death seven months later, from unrelated causes. The defense argued that, before the vertebroplasty, Dr. Williams had ordered a biopsy and the pathology report was inconsistent with osteomyelitis. All of Plaintiff’s post-surgery physicians believed that a tumor was the most likely cause and multiple physicians did not suspect infection. Defense admitted that osteomyelitis was present however, it was only in retrospect that the physicians could have known this. Importantly, Plaintiff’s sedimentation rate before the vertebroplasty was not consistent with infection. Mr. McGauley ‘s post-vertebroplasty exam showed positive movement and defense argued that Mr. McGauley did not become paralysed until the day after, when a nurse made him stand up from bed. In a spine filled with infection, collapse can occur with this simple movement. The defense emphasized that the amount of cement was necessary and undermined Plaintiff’s claim that he was in good health prior. The defense moved for directed verdict on the informed consent issue, as that plaintiff failed to demonstrate a link between lack of informed consent and paralysis. Mr. McGauley’s daughter, who was medical surrogate and personal representative, testified that if she had been told paralysis was a potential risk of the procedure, she would have “talked to her family about it”, but never testified that she would not have given consent. The day after the motion, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the informed consent claim.
The jury deliberated for 10.5 hours over the course of 2 days before returning a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: August 16, 2017