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A Brooklyn, N.Y., judge Wednesday dismissed a $112 million medical malpractice verdict — the third-largest in the state’s history — saying a local hospital could not be blamed for an aneurysm that left a man a quadriplegic. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Melvin S. Barasch said that although the case was “one of the saddest” he had heard, the jury had no rational basis for its verdict. The ruling in Fellin v. Sahgal, 4129/1993, was the latest in a 13-year-old case that first resulted in a $44 million verdict, which was remanded for a new trial. Last year, another jury awarded the injured man, David Fellin, $112 million. In 1991, Fellin was a 23-year-old elevator repairman at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. One day in January of that year, he felt a sudden pain in his back while working. He walked to the hospital’s emergency room at 11:40 a.m. that day and his vital signs were taken at 12:30 p.m. At around 1 p.m., Mr. Fellin told a nurse his back pain had subsided, but he now had a severe headache and had vomited. At 1:30 p.m., his vital signs were normal and at 2 p.m. he underwent a neurological examination by Dr. Vivek Sahgal, who ordered a CAT scan. At close to 3 p.m., before the CAT scan could be done, Fellin’s blood pressure spiked and he became comatose. He was prepared for brain surgery, which began at 6:45 p.m. and ended close to 10 p.m. Doctors later determined that Fellin’s aneurysm ruptured and “discharged a massive amount of blood into the brain” at 3 p.m., according to the opinion. Fellin’s life was saved, but he will never recover from his injuries. After a trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jules L. Spodek, a jury found that the hospital was at fault for failing to obtain a timely CAT scan and for failing to give Fellin medication to reduce his blood pressure before 3 p.m. Justice Spodek vacated the verdict, finding that although there was legally sufficient evidence to support a verdict on delayed treatment, the jury’s finding was against the weight of the evidence. The judge dismissed the verdict as to the blood pressure medication — specifically, Mannitol — saying there was legally insufficient evidence to support that claim. On appeal, the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, disagreed that there was legally insufficient evidence concerning the Mannitol, but noted that Fellin’s vital signs were normal at the time and that experts had said Mannitol should not be given in such a situation. Ample evidence existed, the court said, that no malpractice was involved. The appeals court also agreed that a new trial should be conducted as to a delay in treatment, but suggested that there was considerable evidence the hospital’s “wait and see” approach was acceptable since Fellin’s vital signs were normal. Furthermore, the court said that even if a delay constituted a departure from good medical practice, evidence suggested that the delay did not cause Fellin’s injuries. At his second trial, before Justice Barasch, Fellin’s attorney, Robert J. Bohner, then of Shaw, Licitra, Esernio, Schwartz & Pfluger, played a “day-in-the-life” videotape of Fellin in a nursing home, where he needs constant care. He also told the jury about Fellin’s mother, whose life, according to Barasch, now revolves around visiting and caring for her son. The judge said the film “brought tears to everyone’s eyes.” Despite all the “well-merited” sympathy, Barasch said, “The Court is required to ensure that such sympathy is not improperly used as a vehicle to ascribe liability and grant an award where legal liability has not suitably been established.” Barasch, considering a motion to vacate the verdict, essentially found that no matter what doctors had done, they could not have prevented Fellin’s injuries from occurring. “[He] would have suffered the same disastrous injury he did because there simply was not sufficient time to perform all of the steps that good and accepted medical practice required in 1991,” the judge wrote. Bohner, now of counsel at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, could not be reached for comment. Brian J. Shoot, the attorney at Sullivan who briefed the motion to vacate, could not be reached. Edward J. Guardaro of Bartlett, McDonough, Bastone & Monaghan, the appellate counsel for the hospital, said, “We’re very pleased with the court’s decision.” The hospital was represented at trial by Richard V. Caplan of Aaronson, Rappaport, Feinstein & Deutsch.

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