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In February 2015, Mic McConnell’s and Derrick Walker’s client underwent what was expected to be a routine laparoscopic abdominal surgery. The negligence of the surgeon that day has led to years of agony for that client, and her treatment for complications resulting from those actions continues.
During a laparoscopic procedure to remove the client’s ovaries, the surgeon inadvertently damaged her bladder. While not an uncommon or unexpected risk with this type of surgery, it did cause the minimally-invasive procedure to take a drastic turn. To help repair her bladder, a urologist was called in and the laparoscopic surgery was upgraded to open surgery. The client’s bladder was successfully repaired, the urologist left the operating room, and the initiating surgeon completed the procedure and closed the client’s abdomen.
According to McConnell, after the patient was out of the operating room and was in the post-op recovery unit, the doctor ordered a postoperative x-ray—stat—to “rule out any foreign body.” The results of the x-ray were negative.
The client appeared to be making a normal recovery until she began suffering from persistent abdominal pain, fatigue, and nausea in the summer of 2015. She visited her primary care physician who ordered a CT scan and discovered a celiac lymph node. She was then referred to a surgical oncologist who requests a second scan in early December. That scan revealed a large mass in her abdomen that the oncologist suspected may be cancerous.
Just after Christmas, the oncologist performed surgery on the client to remove and test the mass found in the CT results. When the client awoke in the post-op recovery unit, her family shared with her both good news and bad: she did not have a cancerous tumor, but the oncologist had removed a 24” x 16” surgical towel left from her previous surgery and 2.5 liters of infectious fluid from her abdomen instead.
Her recovery has been long and painful. Because the infection had grown so severe, her wound had to be left open for draining. She was hospitalized and treated multiple times for anemia, dehydration, and sepsis. In the year that followed, the client had to endure two subsequent surgeries to repair hernias that resulted from the procedures required to remove the towel and treat the infection. Her surgeon testified that her abdomen was such a catastrophe that she will likely never be discharged from his care.
Mic McConnell took the case in 2016, and at that time the negligent doctor’s insurance company made no offers of settlement. The case moved closer to the courtroom. About a month before trial, McConnell brought in attorney Derrick Walker as the second chair. McConnell said, “A few weeks before trial, we were discussing the case and he had so many interesting ways to frame the case, and issues within the case, I decided he should do the closing. Best decision I made in the entire history of the case. Flawless closing. I am convinced it really drove the verdict.” Experts were called by both sides, and the trial was conducted over four days. Immediately prior to closing arguments, the surgeon’s insurance company offered $700,000. McConnell declined the offer. After the delivery of Derrick Walker’s closing argument, the jury was out only ninety minutes. The jury returned a verdict of $2 million. Please join Allen & Allen in congratulating Mic McConnell and Derrick Walker on their excellent work in delivering justice for their client.