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Smith and Keeton Obtain Defense Verdict for Surgical Group in Peoria County

Quinn Johnston attorneys Matthew Smith and Ryan Keeton obtained a not guilty verdict for a surgical group and three of its employed physicians in a recent medical malpractice case in Peoria County.

The plaintiff alleged a failure to diagnose an anastomotic leak following a laparoscopic low anterior colon resection procedure resulting in the patient’s death two days after discharge from the hospital. Plaintiff argued that the surgeons negligently failed to recognize signs and symptoms of a leak during a four-day post-surgery hospitalization. Additionally, Plaintiff argued that the surgeons should have ordered additional diagnostic imaging and/or blood work to rule out a post-operative leak prior to discharge.

Smith and Keeton defended the surgeons on multiple grounds. First, they argued that while the patient had certain symptoms that could be associated with a leak, those symptoms were never concurrent and only occurred in isolation. As such, the presentation was very consistent with the typical arc of recovery for this type of surgery, not a clinically significant leak. Second, they argued that by day four of the hospitalization, the patient’s condition had improved significantly and reassured the surgeons that discharge was appropriate. Finally, they pointed out that the patient was home for approximately 36 hours after discharge prior to suffering a sudden, terminal event. The lack of symptoms in the time period following discharge made it implausible that a leak existed when the patient left the hospital. Instead, the patient most likely suffered an acute disruption of the anastomosis leading to an immediate and catastrophic cardiopulmonary arrest.

During the course of trial, Smith and Keeton were able to eliminate certain allegations so that the only question posed to the jury was whether additional testing and imaging should have been ordered prior to the patient’s discharge. After two weeks of trial, Plaintiff asked the jury for over $10.9 million. The jury returned a defense verdict after approximately 3 hours of deliberations.

This was Smith’s third defense verdict in the past 5 months (and the second on which Keeton assisted at trial).


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