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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury awards plaintiff $1.3M in medical malpractice trial

April 19, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Ellen Spodek listens as Hayes Young (standing), trial counsel for the law firm Mark Basichas & Assocs., addresses the jury during opening remarks in the medical malpractice trial Sherman v. Westrich. Young is using a visual aid in describing one of the components of his client’s prosthetic hip. Court reporter Lisa Calvano records the proceedings. 

At age 58, Bela Sherman’s osteoarthritis necessitated a total hip replacement in an attempt to relieve her chronic pain. Dr. Geoffrey Westrich performed the surgery in July 2010, inserting a modern prosthetic hip joint. Unfortunately, her pain was exacerbated following the procedure, and Sherman underwent revision surgery 14 months later with another orthopedic surgeon. Young alleged that Westrich performed an improper insertion of the prosthesis, specifically the Anatomic Dual Mobility cup component, during the initial surgery, and claimed that Sherman’s pain was due to his negligence. 

Guy Lawrence (at right), of the law firm Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, represented Westrich. Lawrence attributed Sherman’s painful condition to ALVAL, or “aseptic lymphocyte dominated vasculitis-associated lesions,” caused by a hypersensitivity to metal-on-metal corrosion from her hip replacement components, two of which were recalled by the manufacturer in June 2012. Lawrence asserted that Westrich’s surgery did not depart from prevailing standards of care. 

Sherman described her pain as crippling, worse than her experience giving birth without anesthesia. While she ascribed substantial relief to the revision surgery, she contended that she will permanently suffer residual difficulties in function and range of motion. Sherman has a life expectancy of 20 more years. 

The three-week trial ended last week in Kings County Civil Term. The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $1.3 million in damages, including $850,000 for past pain and suffering, $400,000 for future pain and suffering and $50,000 to her husband. 

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