Brennan and Cavins Win Not Guilty in Orthopedic Malpractice Case Alleging Permanent Nerve Injury and Functional Impairment In Dominant Hand

Brennan Burtker LLC congratulates Partners Mark M. Brennan and Jonathan Cavins in their successful defense of an orthopedic surgeon in a malpractice case in Will County alleging permanent nerve injury in the plaintiff’s dominant hand, causing loss of function. Plaintiff contended her ulnar nerve was lacerated during an orthopedic hand surgery. The plaintiff underwent 3 subsequent surgeries which included a failed nerve graft surgery and a multiple tendon transfer surgery in an attempt to restore function in her dominant hand. The plaintiff further argued that the orthopedic surgeon failed to take precautions to protect the ulnar nerve, and that the standard of care required a preoperative MRI to view the nerve relative to other structures in the hand and gross observation of the nerve during surgery to ensure it would not be injured. Plaintiff relied heavily on the operative report of a subsequent hand surgeon who documented that a laceration had occurred during the index orthopedic hand surgery, requiring the subsequent ulnar nerve graft procedure that later failed.  Brennan and Cavins argued a laceration of the ulnar nerve never happened, and that the plaintiff likely encountered a traction injury to the ulnar nerve from necessary retraction to perform the index orthopedic hand surgery. Brennan and Cavins further argued that the subsequent hand surgeon’s operative report described operative findings that were not consistent with a lacerated nerve, and that ulnar nerve function was permanently impaired once the subsequent hand surgeon cut the ulnar nerve to perform a nerve graft that later failed. Brennan and Cavins further agreed that both a laceration and stretch injury were well-described and well-known risks of the orthopedic surgery of which the plaintiff had been fully apprised, and that injury by either mechanism is not orthopedic malpractice. The jury returned the defense verdict in under 2 hours.

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Brennan Burtker LLC is Chicago’s first full service health care law firm, providing clients everything from defense litigation to health care compliance services. Our partners are established and recognized defense litigation attorneys with an in-depth understanding of the day to day issues facing health care professionals and institutions.

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