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Syracuse Jury Awards Man $10,000,000 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.

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"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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