Paralyzed After Spine Surgery, Woman Awarded $4.88M Jury Verdict

December 21st, 2016

By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq.


A former school bus driver who underwent spinal surgery in July 2008 has been awarded a $4.88 million verdict in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas after a post-surgical infection left her paralyzed. After a seven-day trial and three hours of deliberations, the jury in the case determined that her medical treatment was substandard.

The victim, April Mendel, had spinal surgery at Philadelphia’s Albert Einstein Medical Center on July 31, 2008, but 12 days later she began to suffer from fever and drainage from her surgical wound, according to a May 12 story by The Legal Intelligencer. She called her doctor’s office to report her condition, but an assistant allegedly failed to tell the doctor about the patient’s call, the story reported.

She was then taken to the Underwood-Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, where emergency room personnel found that her surgical wound had become infected and was draining pus, the report continued. She was then transferred back to Einstein, but upon arrival was told there was no room for her until the next day. That information was apparently not communicated to one of her doctors, Dr. Eric Williams, who eventually went home when she still had not arrived that night, the story reported.

In a medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed on her behalf, Mendel alleged that Williams knew that the patient had an infection in her spinal surgery wound but left the hospital that night without getting adequate information about her medical condition.

Mendel was finally admitted to Einstein later that night and she soon began complaining of worsening pain, for which she was given intravenous painkillers, the report continued. At that point, “there were no records indicating that she was paralyzed when she arrived,” the story reported. Within a few hours after arriving at Einstein, Mendel was taken into surgery where her wound was drained, but at that point paralysis was discovered, the report continued.

Mendel’s lawsuit against Williams, Einstein and another doctor who treated her, Dr. Andrew Beaver, alleged that the defendants “deviated from the standard of care by failing to admit Mendel promptly and to have her seen by a specialist.”

Mendel was left a paraplegic from a post-spinal surgery infection.

“As a result of these failures on the part of Dr. Williams and his orthopedic surgery team,” court papers said, “Ms. Mendel’s known wound infection was permitted to progress and expand until it had caused irreversible spinal cord injury.”

The jury found Williams to be 34 percent negligent, while finding Beaver and Einstein were each 33 percent negligent, the report stated.

These kinds of cases are a somber reminder that 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 similar medical malpractice, birth injury 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) 352-4572 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.

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