TAM Managing Shareholder Thomas N. Alfrey obtains complete defense verdict in medical malpractice jury trial

TAM Managing Shareholder Thomas N. Alfrey today received a complete defense verdict from a Rio Grande County jury on behalf of their client in a medical malpractice case. The defense verdict in Settle v. Basinger, M.D., was the result of a second liability trial on the merits of the case, with the jury having returned a hung verdict in a prior proceeding.

The plaintiff originally injured himself in an ATV accident for which he was cited for trespassing, driving while under the influence, and DUI per se. After attempting to scale a wall and having the ATV roll over on him, the plaintiff began experiencing chest pains which were reported to the police who responded to his accident. He was taken to Rio Grande Hospital for observation and treatment of visible trauma to his head, neck, chest and back.

The plaintiff was examined upon arrival at the hospital by the attending physician defendant, who noted an 85% pneumothorax. The subsequent ER course was to place a chest tube, which was placed on the first try and resulted in positive breath sounds and an increase in saturation levels after evacuating 250 CCs of blood. Insertion of the chest tube, however, did not resolve the pneumothorax, and the defendant ordered the plaintiff be transferred to a Level I trauma unit in Denver.

While awaiting transport, the plaintiff was attended to by two hospital nurses, who made several attempts to intubate the plaintiff due to the progression of respiratory distress as well as in preparation for a second chest tube placement and his fixed wing flight to Swedish Hospital in Denver. Multiple attempts later, the plaintiff had suffered tracheal tearing and damage to his larynx. The tracheal tearing was required to be surgically repaired once the plaintiff arrived at Swedish, and led to a three month recovery stay at that facility. The hospital nurses and hospital itself were previously named defendants, all of whom resolved their claims out of court prior to trial.

At trial, the jury was asked to answer the medical malpractice causation question solely between the plaintiff and the defendant, to the exclusion of the previously settled parties. After an eight day trial, the jury deliberated for one day to return its verdict form finding that the defendant’s care was not the cause of the plaintiff’s tracheal tearing and associated injuries. Post-trial motions are currently pending.