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Medical Malpractice Defense

LeClairRyan’s Medical Malpractice Defense team is formidable in both size and experience level. All of our partners are first-chair trial lawyers, and many of our veteran litigators have been recognized as “Super Lawyers” or “Best Lawyers in America” by legal publications from across the country. This “bring-out-the-big-guns” strategy is well advised given the enormous scope and scale of the U.S. medical liability crisis, with its profusion of costly—and often spurious—legal actions against medical providers and professionals of all types. According to the Physician Insurers Association of America, for example, the median medical jury award in medical liability cases more than tripled from 1997 to 2006, with the average award during this period rising from $347,134 to $637,134. Meanwhile, median and average settlements rose from $100,000 to $204,500, and from $212,861 to $335,847, respectively.

Our Medical Malpractice Defense team has decades of combined experience in representing physicians, psychologists, dentists, chiropractors, hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, medical colleges, self-insured health systems and other clients in state and federal courts and before various professional boards. Unlike some of our competitors, our attorneys do not shy away from court, where they have a proven track record of successfully defending clients, often in the most difficult of venues.

Our team represents clients in matters related to an array of legal issues for a diverse group of medical specialties, including anesthesiology, dentistry, emergency medicine, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, internal medicine, neurosurgery, nursing, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, podiatry, psychiatry, psychology, radiology and urology. Given these divergent areas of focus, we are able to match each case with the strength and experience of a particular lawyer. This “deep bench” is part of the reason our attorneys are frequently cited in publications listing the largest medical malpractice defense verdicts of the year.

Our attorneys serve as national counsel to several major medical malpractice insurance companies and also help local healthcare providers and their counsel deal with matters related to complex litigation. Our services range from helping clients monitor their claims reserves to acting as primary counsel at trial. Medical malpractice litigation arising from birth trauma and brain injury can be particularly costly and complex, and we have extensive experience with such cases.

While most firms offer post-event counsel, we offer real-time counsel to help clients manage potentially explosive issues—whether an out-of-control patient, a thorny question about privacy or an unannounced investigation. Indeed, our attorneys routinely work with patient-care teams, public relations staff and law enforcement agencies to resolve problematic situations as they happen. The goal is to be proactive to reduce our clients’ liability exposure whenever possible. Toward that end, we often have standing arrangements with clients to provide such services around the clock.

Our experienced attorneys, many of whom have served on the bioethics committees of hospitals and on the boards of long-term care facilities, are available to educate clients and their staff on emerging risk-management issues. Adept at handling clients’ administrative needs, we routinely represent healthcare professionals in tribunals such as medical staff credentialing committees and state licensing boards. With decades of combined experience in both institutional representation and at trial, our arsenal of “big guns” has indeed earned a national reputation for obtaining positive results.

Because of our team’s breadth of knowledge, we provide well-reasoned case analyses to assist our clients with pretrial litigation decisions and with their assessments for each case. We are absolutely committed to serving the needs of our medical care providers and their insurers. If mediation is the proper resolution to a particular case, we will recommend mediation, with all of the supporting case assessment to justify such alternatives to trial. Our clients will always be aware of case developments and will have the information necessary for every step of the pretrial litigation process.

Representative Litigation Matters
  • Connecticut
    • Defense verdict in nine-day jury trial for anesthesiologist alleged to have damaged vocal cords during intubation, purportedly causing voice and breathing problems. Plaintiff also claimed lack of informed consent.
    • Defense verdict in 16-day jury trial for orthopedic surgeon claimed to have caused vascular and sciatic nerve injuries during hip revision surgery. Defense included use of hip surgery video to illustrate the difficulty in identifying vascular and nerve structures during procedure and demonstration of surgery tools.
    • Directed verdict for the defense in for ENT physician at the end of a plaintiff’s case in a five-day jury trial involving cerebrospinal fluid leak during sinus surgery.
    • Judgment for defendant neck surgeon in fraud and misrepresentation case concerning medical procedure causing loss of insurance coverage.
    • Defense verdict in 10-day bench trial in case of gynecologic surgeon failing to diagnose post vaginal hysterectomy ovarian abscess or failure to properly treat cuff collection to prevent ovarian abscess. The jury trial was requested late, and defense won their motion to object to the jury trial.
    • Defense verdict for an independent living community, where 92-year-old plaintiff who was ambulating without her walker alleged that community owed her a duty of supervision.
  • New Jersey
    • Represented ophthalmology group in a case alleging that the doctors negligently performed LASIK surgery, resulting in the need for a corneal transplant. Obtained dismissal of case based on plaintiff’s failure to timely provide discovery.
    • Represented ophthalmologist and his group in a case alleging that the doctors negligently performed LASIK surgery, which resulted in plaintiff having to undergo bilateral corneal transplants, caused continued problems with his vision, and remained at risk for rejection of the transplant. Case was not defensible on liability, and therefore it had to be strategically conceded. Went to trial on damages alone and jury returned an extremely low verdict for plaintiff due to a strong argument that damages were much less than plaintiff claimed.
    • Obtained defense verdict following trial on behalf of ophthalmologist in Essex County in negligent LASIK surgery case.
    • Obtained defense verdict following trial in Essex County in alleged negligent LASIK surgery case.
    • Obtained defense verdict following trial in Camden County in alleged negligent eye surgery case.
    • Represented and defended long term care facility where resident fell out of fourth floor window.
    • Represented and defended long term care facility arising from claim that resident’s above the knee amputation became infected with maggots.
    • Represented and defended numerous long term care and assisted living facilities from multiple claims where resident fell at the facility suffering an array of injuries including fractured hips and cranial hematomas.
    • Represented and defended long term care facilities from multiple claims alleging the resident developed decubitus ulcers during their admission.
  • Virginia

    Central Virginia

    • Held verdict to less than costs incurred by plaintiff’s lawyer to bring lawsuit in Albemarle County for dentist who was accused of improperly performing full-mouth reconstruction. Patient went on to incur substantial bills with subsequent dentist who removed all of defendant’s work and started over. The defendant dentist acted as his own expert witness.
    • Defense verdict for dentist in Albemarle County in a matter alleging failure to diagnose a dental infection in a molar resulting in necrotizing fasciitis of the neck and chest within one week
    • Defense verdict for gastroenterologist in City of Charlottesville in a matter alleging failure to diagnose mesenteric ischemia after six months of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. Angiogram was ordered on the day of apparent complete occlusion.
    • Defense verdict for orthopedic spine surgeon in Charlottesville alleging failure to timely diagnose Compartment Syndrome resulting in a permanent dropped foot. Plaintiff’s appeal was denied.
    • Directed verdict for nursing home in Nelson County where plaintiff claimed negligence for allowing him to fall 15 times in 41 days

    Hampton Roads

    • Defense verdict for internist in Norfolk where patient in alcohol withdrawal jumped from sixth-floor window of hospital
    • Defense verdict for urgent care physician in Newport News in a case alleging failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy that later ruptured and resulted in major bleed
    • Defense verdict for Chesapeake bariatric surgeon in wrongful death lawsuit where surgeon was alleged to not have intervened fast enough when patient deteriorated after gastric bypass surgery
    • Defense verdict for colon and rectal surgeon in Portsmouth where plaintiff suffered impotence and retrograde ejaculation following removal of rectum and remaining colon to treat FAP
    • Defense verdict for plastic surgeon in Norfolk in lawsuit alleging surgeon improperly performed cleft palate repair in an adult patient resulting in a chronic fistula
    • Defense verdict for Hampton bariatric surgeon in lawsuit alleging that surgeon did not diagnose gastric leak quickly enough. Plaintiff had esophageal diversion via colostomy bag on neck for a year and incurred more than $1,000,000 in medical bills.
    • Defense verdict for Hampton emergency medicine physician in wrongful death lawsuit alleging that physician was negligent in failing to diagnose arterial injury in patient who had been stabbed in buttock by his friend
    • Defense verdict for Virginia Beach gynecologist in lawsuit alleging that gynecologist failed to prevent and/or diagnose cervical cancer in young woman despite multiple Pap smears, colposcopies and LEEPs. Patient was incidentally diagnosed during a D & C by another gynecologist and underwent course of radiation and chemotherapy.
    • Defense verdict for Hampton general surgeon in a matter alleging that a subtotal colectomy of a 72-year-old was unwarranted to treat her two precancerous polyps. Plaintiff claimed the defendant did not obtain informed consent and the surgery caused her to suffer fistulas, chronic diarrhea and undergo additional surgeries.
    • Defense verdict for two Chesapeake obstetricians and their group in a shoulder dystocia case filed on behalf of a six-year-old child with a permanent Erb’s Palsy
    • Defense verdict for a Portsmouth anesthesiologist and physician group in a case involving alleged nerve injury following the administration of an epidural for labor
    • Defense verdict in Gloucester for physical therapist in a matter alleging negligence during treatment resulting in a nursing home resident’s fall
    • Defense verdict for Newport News family practice physician in a wrongful death case alleging failure to diagnose pneumonia
    • Defense verdict for Lancaster surgeon in a matter alleging failure to perform cholangiogram during lap chole and failure to drain and investigate hepatic fluid accumulation post-op
    • Defense verdict for Chesapeake gynecologist in a case alleging negligent performance of posterior repair leading to permanent fecal incontinence in a 44-year-old woman
    • Defense verdict for Newport News anesthesiologist in a matter alleging failure to postpone surgery in the face of an elevated peak airway pressure leading to cardiopulmonary arrest and permanent brain injury in a 47-year-old patient undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy
    • Defense verdict for Newport News anesthesiologist in a matter alleging failure to postpone surgery in the face of an elevated peak airway pressure leading to cardiopulmonary arrest and permanent brain injury in a 47-year-old patient undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Verdict was later set aside due to juror misconduct.  
    • Summary Judgment for orthopedic surgeon and medical staffing agency in federal court in Norfolk a matter alleging negligent administration of contaminated steroid injection which caused the plaintiff to contract MRSA. The decision was upheld on appeal.

    Metro Richmond

    • Defense verdict for Henrico County pulmonologist in wrongful death action when bronchoscopy biopsy perforated pulmonary artery
    • Defense verdict for City of Richmond cardiologist in wrongful death lawsuit alleging failure to diagnose aortic dissection, believing that it was pericarditis
    • Defense verdict for cardiac electrophysiologist in City of Richmond in wrongful death lawsuit where estate alleged that patient should have been anticoagulated before cardioversion to treat atrial flutter; evidence showed that patient had refused anticoagulation.
    • Defense verdict for colon and rectal surgeon in Chesterfield County in lawsuit where he cut a ureter in removing the patient’s colon
    • Defense verdict for obstetrician in City of Richmond in lawsuit alleging negligence by physician resulting in stillbirth of term fetus
    • Defense verdict for family physician in City of Richmond in wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence by the physician in failing to diagnose kidney cancer. The deceased patient presented on several occasions over a few years with urinary tract infections; Cancer was found incidentally by urologist.
    • Plea of Sovereign Immunity sustained in the City of Richmond on behalf of a nursing home administrator resulting in dismissal of administrator from the case with prejudice
    • Defense verdict for cardiac electrophysiologist and physician group in City of Richmond in case involving the sudden death of a 41-year-old wife and mother following the prescription of Flecainide for a diagnosis of idiopathic ventricular tachycardia
    • Dismissal of hospital in City of Richmond following motion to strike in a case involving an intraoperative fire during elective plastic surgery.
    • Defense verdict for Richmond emergency department physician in federal court in lawsuit stemming from failure to diagnose heart attack in 35-year-old woman

    Northern Virginia

    • Defense verdict for Arlington internist in wrongful death lawsuit where estate alleged the physician did not treat pulmonary embolism in a timely manner
    • Defense verdict for Arlington nursing home in wrongful death lawsuit where resident was alleged to have choked on meal due to lack of supervision
    • Verdict of less than a third of pretrial demand for Fairfax general surgeon stemming from the transection of the common bile duct during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Patient required a Roux-en-y repair, suffered cholangitis and other complications.
    • Non-suit before closing in Fairfax in a matter in which a two-week-old infant died within 24 hours of being released from the emergency room. Plaintiff alleged failure to diagnose urethra defect and distended bladder that ultimately caused sepsis and death.

    Roanoke/Southwest Virginia

    • Defense verdict in Roanoke County for an orthopedic surgeon in a matter alleging a knee infection following arthroscopic surgery
    • Defense verdict in the City of Roanoke for an ophthalmologist in a matter alleging failure to diagnose the nature of retinal artery emboli resulting in blindness
    • Defense verdict in the City of Roanoke for a general surgeon in a matter alleging injury to vocal chords during a thyroidectomy
    • Defense verdict in the City of Lynchburg for a general surgeon in matter involving a hernia repair resulting in death
    • Defense verdict in the City of Roanoke for a gastroenterologist in a wrongful death matter alleging failure to diagnose mesenteric ischemia
    • Defense verdict in Roanoke County for a family counselor in a matter alleging injury to the parents of a patient. The case was partially dismissed on summary judgment and a defense verdict was rendered for the remaining claims.
    • Dismissal on Motion to Strike for medical facility in City of Roanoke in a matter alleging a patient fell in the facility after treatment with a family practitioner
    • Defense verdict for orthopedic surgeon in Montgomery County in a matter alleging failure to diagnose and appropriately treat a fracture of the patella
    • Defense verdict for an obstetrician in federal court in Roanoke in a shoulder dystocia case alleging that the resident violated the standard of care in the delivery of an infant
    • Defense verdict for a family practitioner in Montgomery County in a matter alleging failure to treat priopism after use of anti-depressant medication
    • Defense verdict for a nurse in federal court in Abingdon in a matter in which a prisoner alleged that proper care was not received for a head injury

    Shenandoah Valley

    • Defense verdict for Harrisonburg dentist in a matter alleging negligence in the performance of a root canal resulting in permanent cranial nerve injury rendering the plaintiff totally disabled
    • Defense verdict in Rockingham County for a family practice physician in a matter alleging failure to treat aspiration pneumonia
    • Defense verdict in Augusta County for a general surgeon in a matter alleging a bile duct injury during a lap chole
    • Defense verdict for a CRNA in federal court in Harrisonburg in a matter alleging injury to the phrenic nerve during the administration of anesthesia

    Southern Virginia

    • Defense verdict for obstetrician in Mecklenburg County in wrongful death action stemming from death of woman shortly after giving birth
    • Directed verdict for hospital in Henry County in lawsuit stemming from patient falling in radiology department and suffering a compression fracture of his spine
    • Defense verdict for general surgeon in Danville in lawsuit alleging that he failed to timely diagnose appendicitis in child after four days of observation in hospital; subsequent care required two abscess drainage procedures at another hospital.
    • Defense verdict for obstetrician in Danville in a case involving the death of a 36-year-old wife and mother following the birth of her third child; the plaintiff alleged that the mother developed uterine atony that led to DIC
    • Defense verdict for ENT in Mecklenburg County in a matter alleging severe emotional distress from an unauthorized breast examination
    • Defense verdict for an emergency medicine professional in Halifax County in a wrongful death matter alleging failure to diagnose myocardial infarction
    • Defense verdict for anesthesiologist in Martinsville in a wrongful death matter involving a 12-year-old boy who died after receiving anesthesia prior to a surgical procedure
  • West Virginia
    • Successfully defended a trauma surgeon in Ohio County who was unsuccessful in trying to save the life of an auto accident victim; case was appealed and affirmed.
    • Successfully obtained dismissal in a malpractice case based upon lack of jurisdiction of West Virginia over a Virginia defendant; case was appealed and affirmed.
    • Successfully defended Raleigh County General Hospital in an $8 million contract claim brought by the hospital’s chief of anesthesia; jury verdict in favor of the defendant hospital obtained.
    • Achieved dismissal of claims in Putnam County based upon approximately 14,000 cases against hospital for failure to appropriately clean and sterile hospital endoscopes.
    • Achieved dismissal of seven claims against hospital in Putnam County based upon vicarious liability claim for a surgeon who had performed spine surgery on these patients without having completed his orthopedic residency; case was appealed and affirmed.
  • Representative Licensure Board Matters
    • Represented a national healthcare system when its outpatient radiological technicians received “cease and desist” letters for practicing without state licensure despite a state law exempting technicians from licensure when practicing for a provider holding a hospital license. Radiology services for several thousand Virginias were at stake.
    • Represented a physician accused of being impaired by substance or alcohol abuse
    • Represented a psychologist accused of violating boundaries by having an affair with a client
    • Represented a hospital during investigation by state agency stemming from a purported sexual encounter between mentally-retarded patient and geriatric patient on psych unit. Issues involved patient monitoring, use of restraints, patient rights, police involvement, and timely reporting to agency, etc.
    • Represented a surgeon accused of failing to adequately follow a patient after gastric bypass surgery leading to patient’s death
    • Represented a physician accused of improperly prescribing narcotics
    • Represented a nursing home during a state/Medicare survey that threatened to close the facility
    • Represented a continuing care community during a strep bacteria outbreak
    • Represented a psychiatrist accused of allowing a patient to self-direct her pain management care
    • Represented a physician after settling a lawsuit for failure to appropriately recognize, respond to and treat the patient’s acute neurological decline
    • Represented a physician who was required to undergo competency assessment pursuant to Virginia’s three strikes statute
    • Represented a dentist for failure to diagnose and treat decay
    • Represented dentist with multiple offices on allegations ranging from of improper advertising and billing to quality of care
    • Represented a nurse anesthetist following death of a patient
    • Represented obstetrician in board investigation following filing of claim for inclusion of deceased infant in Virginia’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program
    • Represented family practitioner in investigation following settlement of a wrongful death claim alleging failure to diagnose prostate cancer
    • Represented nurse practitioner in investigation stemming from family member allegation that nurse practitioner failed to diagnose pneumonia leading to patient’s death
    • Represented radiologist in investigation following settlement of medical malpractice case shortly after completing competency evaluation

    Before a licensing board, mediator, judge, jury or appellate court, our attorneys can guide insurance companies and healthcare providers through any situation. Reach out to us when you need legal counsel to defend your high-stakes matters.

Contact

  • 804.783.7532