Jury Awards $4.2 Million For Botched Surgery

NEW HAVEN, July, 2015 – A New Haven Superior Court jury today awarded $4.2 million to a 58-year-old man who lost the use of his shoulder after a serious medical error.

In December of 2008, Gregory Leigh, a laborer at the PermaTreat Corporation, Durham, and resident of Wallingford, Conn., sought medical care for a swollen lymph node on the left side of his neck. His doctor, defendant Daniel Schwartz, scheduled him for immediate surgery to remove the lymph node. But Mr. Leigh didn’t need surgery. In fact, a simple test would have revealed that Mr. Leigh was suffering from a mild Bartonellosis bacterial infection, known as Cat Scratch Disease.

During the surgery, the defendant Dr. Schwartz damaged Mr. Leigh’s spinal accessory nerve, leaving him with permanent and catastrophic injuries to his left shoulder.

“Besides misdiagnosing Gregory’s case entirely, the surgeon in this case botched the surgery, leaving Gregory permanently damaged,” said Atty. Sean McElligott, of the Bridgeport and New Haven law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. “During the surgery to remove the lymph node, doctors caused permanent injury to Gregory’s shoulder. He now has nerve palsy, disfigurement or his arm and shoulder, cannot extend his left arm or raise it over his head, has permanent numbness and pain, and can no longer work at his job without considerable difficulty.”

The lawsuit named as defendants Dr. Daniel Schwartz, the surgeon, and Midstate Medical Group in Meriden.

“What is especially tragic in this case is that Gregory’s injuries were entirely preventable,” said co-counsel Emily Rock, a recent Yale Law School graduate and associate at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. “Had his doctor carefully and skillfully performed this routine diagnostic procedure, Gregory would have full function of his shoulder today.”

The two-and-a-half week trial was before a jury of three men and three women and Judge Robin Wilson. Dr. Schwartz is now practicing at Hartford Hospital.

“It is clear that far too often, surgeons jump to perform surgery without properly considering less invasive options,” McElligott said. “I hope this case will alert both physicians and patients that they should proceed toward surgery with a greater degree of caution.”

Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport and New Haven. The nationally known law firm has achieved record verdicts for people who suffer serious personal injuries or economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil or constitutional rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate or governmental abuse and commercial misconduct.