Defense Verdict for Attorney Frederick Sewards

Plaintiff, a 48 year old male, suffered from chronic debilitating low back pain due to arthritis.  He was referred to a neurosurgeon for evaluation and ultimately taken to surgery for decompression and fusion of his lumbar spine.  Following the procedure, Plaintiff developed tetraplegia involving his upper and lower limbs and there was concern that an injury to the cervical spinal cord had occurred perioperatively.  Plaintiff underwent 4 months of rehabilitation in hospital and skilled nursing facilities, but claimed permanent residual weakness in his upper and lower limbs. Subsequent MRI of the cervical spine revealed severe spinal stenosis that put the Plaintiff at increased risk for injury during the lumbar surgery.  Plaintiff’s neurosurgical expert witness opined that the extent of arthritis in the lumbar spine is known to be associated with similar disease elsewhere in the spine and the cervical spine should have been cleared before surgery.  Defendant’s neurosurgical witness opined that, without neurologic signs or symptoms in the upper limbs, the standard of care did not require clearing the cervical spine.  5 Day trial.  Unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant neurosurgeon.

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