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Montgomery Co. jury awards $2M medical malpractice verdict

A Montgomery County jury has awarded $2 million to a woman who suffers complications caused by spinal surgery.

A jury of five women and one man found Thursday that orthopedic surgeon Navinder Singh Sethi and Potomac Valley Orthopaedic Associates failed to exercise due care in treating plaintiff Patricia Bent and did not obtain informed consent from Bent before conducting spinal surgery.

The jury award included just over $1 million in non-economic damages, which will be reduced to $740,000 pursuant to the state cap in 2014, when the surgery was performed.

Bent, 64, an emergency room nurse, had previously undergone successful spinal surgery for a herniated disk on her right side, a surgery performed by Sethi. A year later, she returned to Sethi with similar symptoms on her left side, the lawsuit states.

Sethi recommended an operation on both sides of Bent’s spine — a risky procedure since Bent had already undergone surgery on the right side and, as a result, had scar tissue around her spine, Tara M. Clary, one of Bent’s attorneys, said in an interview Monday. In addition, Clary said, Bent was not experiencing symptoms on her right side.

 

“It was an unnecessary surgery and it was a particularly risky surgery,” said Clary, of Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A. in Baltimore, about operating on Bent’s right side.

Bent faced complications on her right side after the surgery, specifically because of a tear in tissue near her spinal cord, the lawsuit states. Because of the injury, Bent cannot feel her right side from her waist to her foot and cannot walk on her own, work or drive.

“She was described as someone who was a professional caretaker who now has to be taken care of herself,” Clary said.

The jury found that Sethi was negligent in offering a bilateral procedure and that Bent should have been given the option of a left-side-only procedure.

Sethi testified that the way Bent’s spine looked in an MRI image justified the surgery, Clary said.

The jury arrived at a verdict last week following an eight-day trial and two days of deliberations. Clary said that Bent was “happy that there was accountability but resigned that she has to live with this for the rest of her life.”

Gregory S. McKee, an attorney for the defense, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Patricia Bent, et al. v. Navinder Singh Sethi, M.D., et al.        

Court: Montgomery County Circuit

Case No.: 443250-V

Judge: Sharon Burrell

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff; Total: $2,045,213.51; past Medical Expenses: $84,148.51; Medical and Life Case Expenses: $370,064.00; Lost Wages: $586,001.00; Non-economic Damages: $1,005,000.00

Dates:

Incident: Aug. 11, 2014

Suit filed: Feb. 14, 2018

Verdict: May 9, 2019

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: A. Wray Fitch and Tara M. Clary of Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A. in Baltimore

Defendants’ Attorneys: Gregory S. McKee and Adam Hare of The Law Offices of Gregory S. McKee LLC in Annapolis

Counts: Negligence, lack of informed consent


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