Barry Postman and Michael Brand of Cole, Scott & Kissane shut down a $19.9 million medical malpractice lawsuit brought by former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Otis J. McDuffie against the team’s head orthopedic surgeon John W. Uribe.
A Miami-Dade jury found Uribe did not derail McDuffie’s football career by allowing him to return to the field for the second half of a game in 1999 against the New England Patriots.
Uribe was the team’s head physician at the time. After McDuffie injured his left big toe in the first half, Uribe had examined and X-rayed him, then given him an injection to numb the pain so that he could continue the game.
According to McDuffie’s 2002 complaint, this aggravated the injury and ultimately ended his career. It claimed Uribe and the Miami Dolphins allegedly also tried to convince him to practice and play after he’d sat out a few games.
McDuffie played for the Dolphins between 1993 and 2000. He played a total of 116 games and led the National Football League in 1998 with 90 catches.
McDuffie’s lawsuit claimed the doctor should have demobilized him and referred him to a specialist, but Uribe maintained that he’d acted within the standard of care.
“Dr. Uribe has long believed he acted appropriately, as he does for all of his players, so it was important to him that the case be tried,” said Michael Brand, who picked up the case in the last three years with Postman and their colleague Wendy Lumish.
Read the full jury verdict:
The lawsuit crawled through court for eight years before McDuffie won an $11.5 million verdict at trial in 2010. But Miami-Dade Judge Michael Genden threw out that verdict and granted a new trial, ruling that he shouldn’t have allowed a medical manual into evidence.
McDuffie’s Miami lawyers, Stuart N. Ratzan of the Ratzan Law Group and Herman Russomanno of Russomanno & Borrello, said they were disappointed that the judge had prohibited them from showing the jury certain evidence the second time around.
“Dr. Uribe admitted in the last trial to testifying falsely under oath about his defense in this case,” Ratzon said. ”The judge also prohibited us from showing the jury that Dr. Uribe’s lead expert changed his opinion from the last trial. All of this testimony and evidence was whitewashed from the record.”
The entire case, as they saw it, “was about credibility.”
This time around, Brand and Postman hired experts in standard of care and causation to discuss McDuffie’s injury. Uribe also made “an incredible witness” on his own behalf, according to Brand.
Jurors also heard from a couple of star witnesses.
“It’s not often that you see Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson walk into a courtroom,” said Brand. “That was definitely a little more interesting than most.”
Marino testified to McDuffie’s skills as a player, while former Dolphins coach Johnson discussed NFL contracts.
Uribe is “extraordinarily relieved” and “appropriately vindicated” by the jury’s verdict, according to Brand, who pointed out that “this has been close to a 20-year ordeal” for both sides.
“Litigation that lasts that long, it impacts everyone,” Brand said.
As the plaintiff previously rejected a settlement offer for an undisclosed amount, according to Cole, Scott & Kissane, the plaintiff could be vulnerable to attorney fees and costs.
According to McDuffie’s lawyer, he will seek a new trial.