Patton & Ryan Stymies Runaway Settlement Negotiations

August 17, 2016

In September 2010, Plaintiff, a 38-year-old man, was admitted to the general medical floor at defendant hospital with severe community acquired pneumonia by his primary care physician. Plaintiff was seen by multiple physicians during his stay from September 20th-22nd, 2010; most notably multiple pulmonologists, an anesthesiologist, and an emergency room physician. Plaintiff was eventually transferred to the ICU once his condition began to worsen. While in the ICU, he developed a tension pneumothorax, most likely during the process of intubation. That tension pneumothorax led to cardiac arrest and a permanent brain injury.

Multiple unsuccessful attempts at settlement with seasoned media­tors occurred prior to Patton & Ryan’s retention and involvement in the matter, and Plaintiffs’ demands remained steadfastly exorbitant up through and during trial. Their initial demand clocked in at $50 million dollars, and their final demand made at the last unsuccessful mediation session two months prior to trial was $39.5 million.

At trial, Plaintiffs alleged claims of medical negligence against four different physicians and their private medical practices as well as the hospital under theories of agency and institutional negligence. Patton & Ryan successfully quashed the claims of vicarious liability based on actual agency of the doctors on a motion for summary judgment prior to trial. The hospital denied that any of the independent contrac­tor physicians were “apparent agents” of the hospital and that any of the alleged policies and procedural violations constituted negligence or caused Plaintiff’s injuries. Defendants also alleged that Plaintiff knew and understood the employment status of all physicians who treated him because he signed a clear and unequivocal consent form when he arrived for admission – as well as on three prior occasions. Therefore, the hospital could not be vicariously liable for the medical negligence of those physicians.

With a fast approaching trial date and little of the discovery process completed, Patton & Ryan took over the defense of the case after it became apparent that the Plaintiff would not settle. Our attor­neys quickly took over the case, deposed witnesses, obtained and reviewed the medical records and located an eyewitness, another hospital employee, who challenged and contradicted Plaintiff’s ver­sion of the incident. The eyewitness said that the patient was not thrown onto Plaintiff but that Plaintiff stumbled on his own and fell.

In addition, Patton & Ryan identified and retained a board certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Beatty, who successfully challenged the severity of Plaintiff’s injuries and the necessity of the two surgical procedures Plaintiff underwent.

The case proceeded to trial in April 2016. During a full week of pre­trial evidentiary motions, Patton & Ryan prohibited Plaintiffs’ coun­sels from employing inappropriate and irrelevant testimony regarding areas outside their expertise from each of Plaintiffs’ experts. More importantly, Patton & Ryan’s pretrial motion arguments successfully and significantly limited Mr. Reynolds’ fiancé from testifying regarding various damaging and improper “opinions” elicited by Plaintiffs’ coun­sels during her two depositions. These wins on pretrial evidentiary issues significantly limited Plaintiffs’ ability to put on their case and led directly to the settlement of the case against the hospital, prior to jury selection and far below Plaintiffs’ previous demands.