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A Monmouth County jury awarded $2.8 million on Oct. 5 to the plaintiff, who underwent a leg amputation due to orthopedic treatment that caused an infection.
While repairing a roof in February 1995, the plaintiff fell five feet from a ladder and suffered an open fracture of the left shinbone. In the emergency room at the Community Hospital, the orthopedist on call, set the plaintiff’s bone with a plate and screw.
Two months later the wound was gaping and badly infected and the plate and screws were exposed, says the plaintiff’s attorney, John Connelly, a partner at Red Bank’s Drazin and Warshaw, P.C.. the plaintiff went to another doctor for a second operation to remove the plate and screws and underwent a third operation for a bone graft to repair the fracture. But he was still in pain and the infection persisted. Nine months after the accident, the leg was so infected that a below-the-knee amputation was performed.
The plaintiff, now 70, uses prosthesis and walks with some discomfort, says Connelly.
The trial lasted four days. Connelly presented testimony from an orthopedic surgeon that the internal plate and screws procedure carried a risk of infection. He also said the proper treatment for the plaintiff’s injury was an external fixator system of braces combined with treatment of the wound for infection, followed by repair of the wound by a plastic surgeon.
An orthopedic surgeon who testified as an expert for the defense said the plaintiff’s treatment was appropriate and that the complications were a consequence of the severity of the injury, according to Connelly.
After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of $2.7 million in damages to the plaintiff for pain and suffering, and disability, and $100,000 to his wife for a per quod claim.
The defendant was insured, and was represented by an attorney. He says he is preparing to file an appeal but otherwise declined to comment.
— By Charles Toutanf
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