$925,000 settlement announced
June 27, 2011
BRIDGEPORT - The Veteran's Administration has settled a medical malpractice case for $925,000 because a man's eyeball "literally exploded" during a routine outpatient cataract operation.
Jose Goncalves was blinded in his right eye when a third year resident at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in West Haven incorrectly administered an anesthetic during the November 1, 2007 procedure.
Goncalves' attorney, Christopher D. Bernard of the law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, PC., announced the settlement today after final administrative paperwork was completed.
Dr. Yue Michelle Wang, the resident, incorrectly placed a needle with a local anesthetic "directly into Jose's eye instead of behind the eye as was proper. Then, failing to recognize her error, she proceeded to inject so much anesthetic, so quickly, that Jose's eye literally exploded," Bernard said.
Goncalves subsequently endured four additional surgeries in an attempt to save the damaged eye and to maximize his eyesight. However, he has no functional vision in that eye. The most he can see with that eye is the rough outline of his hand when held about six inches in front of his face.
"It is clear that Dr. Wang's training was seriously inadequate," Bernard said. "This should have been a routine procedure as it is for countless people every day. When proper techniques are used, this particular complication should never occur."
The lawsuit says that Goncalves suffered his injuries "as a result of the carelessness and negligence" of the doctors at the Veterans' Administration facility and "has been permanently deprived of his ability to carry on and enjoy life's activities."
"Jose suffered excruciating pain after that botched surgery and continued to have severe pain for months afterward. The damage to the eye is obvious because his iris is missing and his eyelid droops," Bernard said. "If anything should ever happen to the undamaged left eye, he could face total blindness."
Goncalves, who had worked as a roofer prior to the injury, now suffers from a significant lack of depth perception making him completely unable to resume his previous occupation. He now works in the maintenance department at Central Connecticut State University. He is unable to drive except for short distances. Reading, watching television and going to movies also are difficult because the undamaged eye tires so quickly.
The lawsuit was originally filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport in October of 2009.
Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport, Danbury and New Haven. The nationally known law firm has achieved record-breaking verdicts for people who have suffered serious personal injuries and economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate and governmental abuse, and commercial misconduct.