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SKETCHES OF COURT: Plaintiff awarded $5.1M in medical malpractice trial

February 5, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo

In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Dawn Jimenez-Salta listens as attorney Michael Kelton (standing), of the law firm Abrams Fensterman, cross-examines an epidemiology investigator during the medical malpractice trial Gonzalez v. Arya, et al. 

Lucy Gonzalez, 48, underwent a routine colonoscopy under anesthesia in March 2008. About six weeks after the procedure, she was experiencing symptoms that prompted a hospital visit, including abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting blood. During her diagnostic workup, the facility determined that she had acute Hepatitis C, and as she had no prior history of infection, they reported the new case to the NYC Department of Health as is required by law. 

Gonzalez, represented by co-counselors Christopher Albee and Joseph Votto (seated at left) of the law firm Votto and Albee, brought the lawsuit against the gastroenterologist and anesthesiologist, believing that she had contracted the disease during her colonoscopy because she had no other risk factors. They claimed that there was a genetic match of their client’s viral strain to an earlier colonoscopy patient, suggesting a breakdown of sterility technique in the invasive use of a colonoscope or biopsy forceps or needles.

Kelton represented gastroenterologist Dr. Yashpal Arya. Anesthesiologist Dr. Saroj A. Hazari was represented by attorney Edward Humphries (second from right) of the law firm Vaslas Lepowsky Hauss & Danke. The co-defendants maintained the position that their doctors followed good and accepted medical practice, and refuted the possibility of cross-contamination by citing, for instance, the use of different instruments from the earlier patient. They allege that the plaintiff acquired the virus before the procedure. 

The jury returned a comparative verdict for the plaintiff, believing Dr. Arya 60 percent responsible and Dr. Hazari 40 percent responsible for negligence. They awarded the plaintiff $5.1 million in total damages. At far right is attorney Peter Berman, of the law firm Albanese & Albanese, who represented a co-defendant that was dismissed from the suit. Court reporter George David Davila (at center) recorded the proceedings. The trial concluded last week in Kings County Civil Supreme, and post-trial motions are pending. 

 

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