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A suit claiming that a woman had to have her colon removed because of failure to diagnose a blockage, Szymanski v. Rothman, settled in Ocean County for $1.3 million on Dec. 21.

On Aug. 23, 2013, plaintiff Kathryn Szymanski, then 61, went to Ocean Medical Center in Brick with constipation. After an examination and X-rays, she was sent home, according to her lawyer, Daryl Zaslow of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow in Edison.

She returned to the hospital by ambulance the next day, with continued constipation, vomiting and abdominal pain, and was examined by emergency physician Michael Rothman, who diagnosed a bowel obstruction but released Szymanski with instructions to consult with her oncologist, as she had recently begun chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, Zaslow said.

Szymanski was again admitted to Ocean Medical Center on Aug. 26, 2013, and diagnosed with a large bowel obstruction. During emergency surgery, she underwent a colectomy and ileostomy, and has since used a colostomy bag, Zaslow said.

The suit claimed Rothman deviated from the standard of care and should have ordered a CT scan during Szymanski’s second hospital visit, which she alleged would have revealed the blockage. She claimed earlier surgery would have prevented damage to the colon and avoided its removal.

Named as defendants in the suit were Rothman, his medical group, EM-1 Medical Services, and Ocean Medical Center.

Zaslow said Szymanski returned to work as a case worker for the Lakewood Tenant Organization months after the surgery, and is a candidate to have the ileostomy reversed, but is presently not planning that surgery because of potential complications such as bleeding and infection.

The parties had completed discovery and had a trial scheduled for February when they settled on Dec. 21, during a settlement conference with Ocean County Superior Court Judge Craig Wellerson. Rothman agreed to pay his $1 million policy limit; EM-1 Medical Services, $200,000; and Ocean Medical Center, $100,000, according to Zaslow.

Rothman and his medical group were represented by Sean Buckley of Buckley Theroux Kline & Petraske in Princeton. Ocean Medical Center was represented by Donald Grasso of Orlovsky Moody Schaaff & Conlon in West Long Branch. Neither returned a call about the case.

— David Gialanella

Gilbert v. Kar: A driver who suffered neck injuries in a three-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike agreed to a $905,000 settlement in his Middlesex County suit on Dec. 7, 2018.

Calvin Gilbert of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was driving on the Turnpike in Newark on Dec. 22, 2015, when his vehicle collided with a disabled sport utility vehicle. The SUV had rolled into traffic while a flatbed truck driver was attempting to tow it away.

The SUV’s owner said his vehicle had the parking brake engaged, but when the driver from Moran Towing arrived on the scene and attempted to place it on the flatbed, it rolled across three lanes of traffic before colliding with the front of Gilbert’s vehicle in the left travel lane, said his lawyer, Edward Capozzi of Brach Eichler in Roseland. Gilbert’s vehicle was then struck from behind by a second vehicle, whose driver left the scene of the accident.

Gilbert sustained cervical lumbar bulges and herniations in the crash, and after conservative treatment failed to provide relief from pain, he underwent a series of lumbar injections and an anterior discectomy with fusion at C3-4-5, said Capozzi, who handled the case with the firm’s Dennis Shlionsky.

The settlement provides Gilbert with $850,000 from Moran Towing, $50,000 in phantom vehicle coverage from Gilbert’s own policy with Progressive Insurance Co., and $5,000 from the owner of the disabled SUV, Ryan Kar.

The lawyer for Moran Towing, Kyle Everly of Nicholson Law Group in Media, Pennsylvania, declined to comment. Richard Giannone of Cooper Maren Nitsberg in Iselin, who represented Progressive, and Lynn Hershkovits-Goldberg of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown, representing Kar, did not return calls.

— Charles Toutant