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Doc’s Delayed Treatment of Teen’s Collapsed Lung Garners $22M Jury Award

One of the largest jury verdicts award in New York in 2014 came in the case of 16-year-old Carlos Buri, who, while in hospital care for pneumonia on May 29, 2009, suffered a collapsed lung and severe brain damage due to hypoxia. As a result, Carlos cannot walk or perform everyday tasks. He will never be able to live independently or work to support himself. After a trial lasting 20 days, a jury of one male and five females deliberated for one day and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $22 million.

This was a case where a medical expert testified credibly that the attending physician departed from the standard of care. Pediatrician Joanne Hojsak had correctly diagnosed a pneumothorax, which is a condition where the pleural cavity retains gas rather than allowing the lung to exhale it. The pressure building in the cavity causes the lung to collapse. Dr. Hojsak treated the condition by inserting a tube to inflate the lung. At this point, Carlos’ heart stopped. In the 19 minutes it took to resuscitate the boy, he suffered hypoxia.

The plaintiff’s expert witness testified that instead of inserting the tube to re-inflate the lung, Dr. Hojsak should have immediately inserted a catheter into the pleura to release the accumulated air, a procedure known as a thoracostomy, which would have resolved the pneumothorax. The expert also asserted that Dr. Hojsak’s attempt to get a chest X-ray was unnecessary and squandered valuable time.

Expert witness testimony is crucial to any medical malpractice case. Experts testify to help prove negligence on the part of a defendant, the cause of the injury, the extent of the injury, and the economic impact of the injury. Choosing qualified experts who can perform detailed analyses and give credible testimony is an essential part of an attorney’s case management.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to an accident or a doctor’s negligence, the right personal injury attorney can make all the difference in your case. To schedule a free consultation with a Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson attorney, call 888.746.8212 or contact us online.

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