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Smith and VanRheeden Obtain Defense Verdict for Surgeon and Practice Group in Peoria County


Quinn Johnston attorneys Matthew Smith and Alicia VanRheeden obtained a defense verdict for a surgeon and his practice group in a recent medical malpractice case in Peoria County.

The plaintiff alleged that the surgeon failed to timely recognize and treat a bowel perforation during an epigastric hernia repair procedure. The plaintiff argued that two episodes of bleeding in the omentum during the procedure (both of which were controlled with sutures) required the surgeon to look beneath the omentum to inspect the colon for injury. The plaintiff contended that as a result of the alleged negligence, she suffered pain and suffering, loss of normal life and medical expenses resulting from a wound infection, chronic wound healing problems and two additional surgeries.

Smith and VanRheeden defended the surgeon on multiple grounds. First, they argued that there were no signs or symptoms of a bowel leak during the initial hernia repair procedure which would have required the surgeon to inspect the bowel. Second, they argued that the two episodes of bleeding in the omentum were in no way indicative of injury to the bowel. They further argued that absent any indication of a bowel injury, cutting through the omentum and/or creating a larger incision to visualize and inspect the colon would itself increase the risk of injury to the colon. Finally, they argued that the bowel perforation was more likely the result of mesh erosion in the days following the initial procedure rather than instrumentation during the procedure.

After one week of trial, the plaintiff asked the jury for a combined $150,000 for pain and suffering and loss of normal life as well as approximately $108,000 toward medical expenses. The jury returned a defense verdict after 43 minutes of deliberations.

This was Smith’s fourth defense verdict in the last five months.


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