verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

March 3.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Clarion No. 755 CD 2013.

Judge:

James G. Arner.

Type of Action:

Medical Malpractice.

Injuries:

Urinary incontinence; bladder pain.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Michael W. Calder, Rosen Louik & Perry, Pittsburgh.

Defense Counsel:

Alan S. Baum of Matis Baum O’Connor, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Dr. Thomas Jaffe, urology, Pittsburgh; Dr. Mickey Karram, obstetrics and gynecology, West Chester; and Varsha Desai, future medical costs, Blue Bell.

Defense Experts:

Dr. Peter Rosenblatt, obstetrics and gynecology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Comment:

A woman alleging she’s suffering the effects of shoddy installation of a urinary sling was awarded $2 million by a Clarion County jury.

The jury found that Dr. Arthur Thorpe of Women’s Healthcare of Clarion was at fault for plaintiff Lynne Niemynski’s injuries. The jury’s verdict broke down into $21,500 for past medical expenses, $250,000 for noneconomic damages, $20,000 each year from 2017 to 2034, and a $1 million lump sum for future noneconomic loss. For loss of consortium, Niemynski’s husband was awarded a total of $368,500.

Niemynski, 63, went to her gynecologist, Thorpe, for treatment of her urinary incontinence. To treat her condition, Thorpe inserted a transobturator urethral sling, according to Niemynski’s court papers.

Niemynski alleged that after the surgery, she experienced chronic pelvic pain and urinary urgency, intermittent incontinence, and dyspareunia. After seeing Thorpe again, who examined her for a second time with a scope, Niemynski sought another doctor.

The second doctor, Dr. Jonathan Shepherd, found a large mass in Niemynski’s bladder, consisting of a crystalline piece of the tape used to secure the sling in her bladder, according to court papers. Shepherd removed the mass, and alleviated many of her symptoms, but Niemynski claimed she was still not pain-free.

“Mrs. Niemynski has chronic urinary tract infections that cause painful bladder spasms,” court papers said. “This pain is in addition to the devastating pelvic pain she endures on a daily basis. Her incontinence is so bad that Dr. Shepherd implanted an electrical stimulation device. Sadly, that device has not been successful and Mrs. Niemynski become isolated from the real world because her uncontrollable incontinence is far too embarrassing for public display.”

Thorpe’s pretrial papers painted a different picture of the procedure.

“Following the procedure, Mrs. Niemynski had no complaints and stated that her condition was ‘much improved,’” Thorpe’s pretrial memorandum said. Thorpe also claimed that it was not until a year after the insertion of the sling that Niemynski complained of ongoing symptoms.

“Dr. Thorpe did not cause or contribute to any of Mrs. Niemynski’s alleged damages,” the defense said in its memorandum.

The health center’s papers simply restated the allegations: “Plaintiffs allege failure to repeat cystoscopy upon new onset of symptoms; failure to diagnose and treat transobturator mid-urethral sling which had entered plaintiff-wife’s bladder resulting in the development of bladder stones; negligently inserting mid-urethral sling through one wall of plaintiff-wife’s bladder and through the opposite wall of the same organ; and failure to detect the malpositioned 
mid-urethral sling.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael W. Calder of Rosen Louik & Perry in Pittsburgh, said the award “proves that jurors in rural counties will stand up for members of their community who have been wronged, and that these jurors have the courage to award significant compensation to victims of medical malpractice.”

“Nobody should ever believe that a full measure of justice cannot be found in outlying jurisdictions or that physicians can act with impunity simply because they practice medicine in rural areas,” Calder said. “We all deserve better than to believe such myths.”

The health center’s lawyer, Joseph Macerelli of Burns White in Pittsburgh, declined to comment.

— P.J. D’Annunzio, of the Law Weekly •