Collins v. Smith. Washington, D.C. injury lawyer Marc Fiedler, the appellate specialist at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP, recently won an important victory in a medical malpractice case. On February 15, 2008, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the wrongful death jury verdict of over $750,000 in favor of the wife and son of a forty-six-year-old Metrobus operator who had died as a result of a blood clot in his heart, which probably would have been prevented if his doctor had prescribed blood-thinning drugs.
The case arose from the medical treatment received by the bus operator, Mr. Smith, after he accidentally tore the Achilles tendon in his lower left leg. His orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Collins, put a cast on his leg. The cast limited Mr. Smith’s ability to move about, increasing the risk that he would develop in his leg a type of blood clot known as deep-vein thrombosis (“DVT”). But Dr. Collins failed to prescribe anticlotting drugs to prevent DVT. Mr. Smith did develop DVT, from which a large blood clot broke off and traveled through his bloodstream to his heart, killing him.
Mr. Smith’s wife and son filed a wrongful death action accusing Dr. Collins of committing medical malpractice. At trial, the Smiths’ medical experts testified that Dr. Collins’ failure to prescribe blood thinners was negligent and probably caused Mr. Smith’s death. A jury returned a verdict against Dr. Collins in the amount of $761,604.
On appeal, Dr. Collins challenged the sufficiency of the material relied on by the expert witnesses for the Smiths. The Smiths’ appellate lawyer, Marc Fiedler, argued that the experts’ testimony was adequately based on their extensive training and experience, attendance at medical conferences, and review of relevant medical literature. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed there was a sufficient basis for the experts’ testimony, and affirmed the trial-court judgment.