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Defense denied lipoma surgery was careless or injured nerve

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Florida

Venue:

Sarasota County

Court:

Sarasota County Circuit Court, 12th

Injury Type(s):

other-neuropathy other-physical therapy; epidermis-numbness; foot/heel-foot drop (drop foot); neurological-nerve damage/neuropathy (nerve damage, foot); neurological-nerve damage/neuropathy (nerve damage, peroneal nerve); neurological-neurological impairment (neuropraxia)

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – Surgeon, Foot Surgery, Surgical Error

Case Name:

Stephen M. Gooch and Teri Ann Gooch, his wife v. Robert E. Lee Browning, IV., M.D., Intercoastal Medical Group, Inc., d/b/a Intercoastal Medical Group Ambulatory Surgery Center, and Aesculapian Surgery Center, LLC,
No. 2016 CA 001879

Date:

October 11, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Teri Ann Gooch , 

Stephen M. Gooch (Male, 50s)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Michael J. Trentalange;
Trentalange & Kelley, P.A.;
Tampa,
FL,
for
Teri Ann Gooch, Stephen M. Gooch

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Jay Schwartz; D.C.; Neurology; Bradenton,
FL called by:
Michael J. Trentalange ■ Devesh Tiwary; M.D.; General Surgery; Palm Harbor,
FL called by:
Michael J. Trentalange ■ Steven Becker; M.D.; Vascular Surgery; Fair Lawn,
NJ called by:
Michael J. Trentalange

Defendant(s):

Robert E. Lee Browning IV, 

Intercoastal Medical Group Inc, 

Aesculapian Surgery Center, LLC

Defense Attorney(s):

R. Clifton Acord II;
Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Mangan, P.A.;
Tampa,
FL,
for
Robert E. Lee Browning IV, Intercoastal Medical Group Inc, Aesculapian Surgery Center, LLC ■ Richard B. Mangan Jr.;
Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Mangan, P.A.;
Tampa,
FL,
for
Robert E. Lee Browning IV, Intercoastal Medical Group Inc, Aesculapian Surgery Center, LLC

Defendant Expert(s):

Brad Herskowitz;
Neurology;
Miami,
FL called by:
R. Clifton Acord II, Richard B. Mangan Jr. ■ Stephen Butler;
Vascular Surgery;
Plant City,
FL called by:
R. Clifton Acord II, Richard B. Mangan Jr.

Insurer(s):

Doctors Co. for all defendants

Facts:

On March 9, 2015, plaintiff Stephen Gooch, a delivery driver in his 50s, presented to the Intercoastal Medical Group Ambulatory Surgery Center, in Sarasota, for removal of a benign tumor. General surgeon Dr. Robert Browning surgically removed the fatty-tissue tumor, called a lipoma, from Gooch’s left foot. Gooch claimed the surgery left him with permanent damage to the superficial peroneal nerve, which innervates the lower leg. Gooch sued Browning and his employer, Intercoastal Medical Group Inc. He also sued Aesculapian Surgery Center, LLC, which was the licensee of Intercoastal Medical Group Ambulatory Surgery Center. Gooch claimed that Browning was negligent during surgery, constituting malpractice. He also claimed that Intercoastal Medical Group and Aesculapian Surgery Center were vicariously liable for Browning’s actions. According to Gooch, he complained during the procedure of an electric-shock sensation, which was a sign of damage to the peroneal nerve. His counsel presented an expert general surgeon, who testified that Browning deviated from the accepted medical standard. The expert concluded that after Gooch complained of the shock sensation, Browning should have moved away from the superficial peroneal nerve and continued the procedure with extra caution. Counsel also presented an expert general and vascular surgeon, who maintained that Browning should have identified and isolated the superficial peroneal nerve prior to the procedure. Browning said he could not recall Gooch complaining of a shocking sensation during surgery. He also said that he takes steps during surgeries to prevent nerve injuries. His counsel presented an expert vascular surgeon, who claimed that Browning acted within the standard of care.

Injury:

A week after surgery, Gooch returned to Browning for a routine follow-up. He complained of numbness in his left foot and was referred to a neurologist. The neurologist diagnosed an injury to the superficial peroneal nerve. Gooch later received an electromyography, which came back abnormal. Gooch treated the nerve injury with physical therapy. He said he still had neuropathy, which caused permanent numbness, tingling, weakness, and foot drop in his left foot. His counsel also presented an expert chiropractic neurologist, who concluded that the EMG showed a permanent injury to the superficial peroneal nerve. Gooch sought recovery of past and future medical expenses and damages for past and future pain and suffering. His wife, Teri Ann Gooch, presented a claim for loss of consortium. The defense counsel disputed that Gooch’s injury was permanent, and claimed he had a transient condition called neuropraxia. Counsel pointed out that during Gooch’s initial neurology appointment, the doctor told him he would not have long-term weakness in his foot. An expert neurologist for the defense opined that any injury to the superficial peroneal nerve during surgery was temporary. The expert stated that Gooch’s symptoms and abnormal EKG results were caused by pre-existing degenerative changes in his lumbar spine. An expert vascular surgeon for the defense also stated that the injury was temporary.

Result:

The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found that Browning was not liable.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Frederick P. Mercurio

Trial Length:

5
 days

Jury Vote:

6-0

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and defense counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents.