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SKETCHES OF COURT: Former patient awarded $1.2 million in medical malpractice trial

December 21, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch Hon. Peter Sweeney listens as plaintiff’s attorney Jordan Hecht (standing), of the law firm Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, addresses the jury during his summation in the medical malpractice trial Natera v. Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. Hecht is standing before a screen projection of patient records. To his right is co-counsel Jeffrey Koenig.

Sonia Natera was in severe abdominal pain when she checked into the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in July of 2011. Natera was ambulating to and from an examination room in the company of a second-year resident after it was suspected that Natera may have been suffering from an ectopic pregnancy. When Natera complained of being dizzy and needing to stop, the resident left to seek assistance, during which time Natera lost consciousness and fell.

Hecht alleged that the hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice when his client was allowed to walk and when the resident left Natera standing unattended after she complained of dizziness. Hecht claimed that his client was seriously injured in the fall and eventually underwent neck and elbow surgery.  

Defendant’s attorney Michael Lehrman (at right), of the law firm Arshack, Hajek & Lehrman, alleged that as Natera’s examination and vital signs were normal, her fainting episode was a random and unforeseeable instance of vasovagal syncope. Lehrman maintained that the hospital through the actions of its resident had acted reasonably in allowing Natera to walk, and in leaving Natera to seek assistance.  

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The jury determined that the hospital was not negligent in allowing Natera to ambulate, but was liable in allowing her to remain unattended after she complained of being dizzy. Natera, who has a life expectancy of 34 years, was awarded a total of approximately $1.2 million, including $600,000 in damages for past and $100,000 for future pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses still to be determined in the trial that was resolved in Kings County Civil Term.

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