Syracuse jury awards man $10 million for back surgery problems

by Jim O'Hara / The Post-Standard
Monday May 11, 2009

Syracuse, NY - A Syracuse jury Friday awarded a Cortland County man about $10 million in damages to compensate him for the medical problems that have robbed him of his ability to walk following a normally routine back operation five years ago.

Joel Lyon of Homer ended up septic, with meningitis and in a coma as a result of an infection getting into his spinal fluid due to a tear that allowed spinal fluid to openly leak from his back after the surgery, lawyer Jeff DeFrancisco said today.

Lyon sued, claiming a failure to provide proper follow-up care after the surgery at Crouse Hospital Aug. 31, 2004. A state Supreme Court jury Friday found Dr. Scott Gingold, a neurosurgeon, 100 percent responsible for Lyon's condition, DeFrancisco said.

According to DeFrancisco, Lyon started experiencing a lot of pain and leaking fluid from his back a week after the surgery. But Gingold failed to address those issues before having Lyon discharged from the hospital, the lawyer said.

Lyon ended up being readmitted to the hospital four days later and was found to have meningitis and had become septic, DeFrancisco said. The following day, fluid was found to be shooting an inch or more out of his back, the lawyer said.

When doctors tried to do corrective surgery, Lyon had blood in his stomach and he aspirated, ending up in a comatose condition for three months, DeFrancisco said. While he was in the coma, doctors did the corrective surgery, the lawyer said.

But Lyon's condition continued to deteriorate and he ended up with multi-systemic organ failures, hardening of his muscle tissue and calcification throughout his body that prevents him from being able to walk, DeFrancisco said.

DeFrancisco said the jury deliberated about 5.5 hours Friday before reaching the verdict finding Gingold liable and clearing neuroradiologist David Thompson of any liability. Had the jurors found Thompson responsible, they could have gone on to consider whether Crouse Hospital was liable for his conduct, the lawyer said.

The verdict should amount to a payment of about $10 million to Lyon and his wife over the remainder of their lives, DeFrancisco said.

Syracuse jury awards nurse nearly $1.7 million for nerve damage after baby's birth

by Jim O'Hara / The Post-Standard
June 01, 2010

Syracuse, NY - A home-care nurse was awarded nearly $1.7 million in damages by a Syracuse jury Friday to compensate her for permanent nerve damage caused when she was given an injection following the delivery of her baby three years ago.

A state Supreme Court jury of four women and two men awarded Tina Holstein $140,000 for past pain and suffering plus $1,550,000 for future pain and suffering, lawyer Jeff DeFrancisco said today.

The verdict against Community General Hospital came late Friday afternoon following a five-day trial before Justice James Murphy.

According to DeFrancisco, Holstein was in the hospital in October 2007 for the delivery of her third child. There were problems with the delivery and Holstein ended up being given an intramuscular injection several hours later in the recovery room to try to stop her vomiting, the lawyer said.

DeFrancisco said a nurse improperly administered the injection too low, damaging Holstein's sciatic nerve. Holstein, 34, now has lower back problems, difficulty sitting and standing for any length of time and limitations on her physical activities as a result of the nerve damage, the lawyer said.

DeFrancisco said Holstein has continued to work as a licensed practical nurse in home care, but her doctor believes her condition will worsen.

According to DeFrancisco, the Department of Health investigated the birth of Holstein's child and found problems with her treatment and the documentation of that treatment during the delivery. Those issues, however, were not part of the lawsuit, he said.

The Department of Health did not investigate the post-delivery injection which was the basis for the lawsuit, he said.

The hospital's lawyer, Wiley Dancks, said today her office was reviewing the case and the verdict for a possible appeal.

"Despite the jury's hard work on this case, we respectfully disagree with the verdict," she said. "We stand by the care rendered by the hospital and its staff."

VerdictSearch New York Reporter Vol. 28, Issue 32

Denise Keefer, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Sally Koziol v.

Owais Ahmed, M.D., Cardiology Associates, P.C., United Health Services Hospital, Inc. d/b/a Wilson Regional Medical Center, Issac M. Matta, M.D. and United Medical Associates, P.C.


RESULT: Verdict-Plaintiff

Award Total: $557,543


Plaintiff: Charles L. Falgiatano; DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers

Defendant: David F. McCarthy; Levene, Gouldin & Thompson; Binghamton, NY (Owais Ahmed, M.D.); Charles O. Ingraham; Aswad & Ingraham; Binghamton, NY (Wilson Regional Medical Center Wilson Regional Medical Cent); None reported (Cardiology Associates, P.C., Isaac M. Matta, M.D., James J. Vincens, M.D., United Medical Associates, P.C.)

INJURIES: Koziol suffered chest pain, dyspnea and irregular heart rhythms prior to her death on Nov. 10, 2005.


Denise Keefer, acting individually and as the administratrix of Ms. Koziol's estate, sued Dr. Ahmed, Dr. Vincens, Cardiology Associates, P.C., United Health Services Hospital Inc. Dr. Isaac Matta and United Medical Associates, P.C. She alleged that the defendants had departed from accepting medical standards in their failing to examine Ms. Koziol after a change in presentation; failing to perform a cardiac catheterization; failing to properly communicate clinical changes; and failing to perform necessary consultations.

A cardiology expert testified for Ms. Keefer that Dr. Vincens was negligent in failing to provide the proper information to Dr. Ahmed. He further testified that it was incumbent on Dr. Ahmed to examine Ms. Koziol and perform a cardiac catheterization once Ms. Koziol's clinical presentation changed, which included elevated troponin, wheezing, an abnormal EKG at 8 p.m. showing a heart attack, shortness of breath, a cool and clammy appearance, and a rapid, erratic heart rate.

A nursing practices expert testified for Ms. Keefer that all clinical changes that occurred needed to be relayed to the doctors. She further testified that the on-call cardiologist should have been asked to come in by the floor nurse, and if one failed to, that the floor nurse should have gotten one.

Defense counsel's cardiologist testified that Dr. Vincens had performed all of his responsibilities properly. Further testimony supported that Dr. Ahmed had taken appropriate action to order Cardizem given the information he was provided. A second cardiologist testified for the defense that the nursing staff of United Health Services Hospital conformed to standards of care and provided the necessary information.

Ms. Koziol's estate argued that Ms. Koziol's family lost the matriarch of the family as she organized many of the gatherings for family holidays and contributed significantly to the raising of children.

The estate sought the recovery of damages for pain and suffering experienced by the decedent on Nov. 10, 2005, loss of future earnings from Social Security, and funeral expenses for loss of guidance sustained by the decedent's family.

The jury found United Health Services Hospital to be 75 percent liable and Ahmed to be 25 perce