Montgomery County Man Awarded $4 Million Verdict After Errant Cyst Surgery

In July of 2009, 29-year-old Jeffrey Hierholzer of Hatboro, Montgomery County, went in to his doctor’s office to have a cyst removed from his neck. Shortly after the surgery, however, he began feeling pain and weakness in his shoulder near the site of the cyst surgery.

In a decision handed down Aug. 22, a Montgomery County jury awarded Hierholzer $4 million in damages for his injuries after he sued the doctor for the errant procedure that left his shoulder permanently weakened, according to a Sept. 3 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Hierholzer’s physician, Dr. Harris Cohen of Hatboro Medical Associates, had examined the patient and diagnosed the lump on his neck as a cyst, the report stated. Harris later performed an “incision and drainage” procedure to treat the cyst, “but did not perform a complete head and neck evaluation before rendering the diagnosis,” according to a statement by Hierholzer.

When Hierholzer returned to Harris’ office in July 2009 for a follow-up visit after the surgery, the patient again complained of pain to Cohen, according to the story.  “Hierholzer claimed in his pretrial memorandum that for several months after the July 31 follow-up visit, he experienced ‘progressive weakness and loss of normal use of his left shoulder,’ with persistent pain and discomfort felt when performing certain physical activities and sleeping,” the story reported.

Almost a year later, the patient was examined by another doctor in Harris’ office after his left arm continued to suffer weakness and related problems, the story reported. The second doctor “thought there was a possibility that Hierholzer’s left trapezius muscles were atrophied” and sent him to an orthopedic surgeon for follow-up and testing.

A related story from The Bucks County Courier Times reported that “an orthopedic surgeon and later a neurosurgeon determined that the spinal accessory nerve, a major motor nerve coming off the cervical spinal cord, was severed during the cyst removal and couldn’t be repaired, according to court documents.”

A follow-up surgery that attempted to repair the patient’s nerve damage was unsuccessful, according to The Legal Intelligencer. The victim’s lawsuit “alleged that Cohen’s ‘failure to protect and preserve the spinal accessory nerve’ caused a permanent injury, impairing the use of Hierholzer’s left shoulder and significantly limiting his ability to perform his duties as an HVAC mechanic,” the story reported.

After hearing the testimony in the case, the jury awarded Hierholzer $1 million for past pain and suffering and $3 million for future pain and suffering, according to the report.

This tragic case is a somber reminder of the kinds of problems that can arise when patients seek medical treatment in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other medical facilities and become innocent victims of inadequate or incorrect procedures.

Patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.

That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a medical malpractice or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.