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Doc: Diverticulitis was properly treated, didn’t warrant surgery

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

New York

Venue:

Nassau County

Court:

Nassau Supreme

Injury Type(s):

other-ileostomy; other-resection; urological-incontinence; gastrointestinal/digestive-diverticulitis; gastrointestinal/digestive-bowel/colon/intestine; perforation

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – Failure to Test, Failure to Admit, Failure to Treat, Delayed Diagnosis, Prescription and Medication

Case Name:

Mary Alpert v. Michael Mendola, D.O., Scott Springer, D.O., and St. Joseph Hospital,
No. 2852/13

Date:

June 13, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Mary Alpert (Female, 54 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Steven M. Goldfarb;
Goldfarb & Gerzog;
New York,
NY,
for
Mary Alpert

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Tristan Da Cunha; M.D.; Internal Medicine; Jamaica,
NY called by:
Steven M. Goldfarb

Defendant(s):

Scott Springer, 

Michael Mendola, 

St. Joseph Hospital

Defense Attorney(s):

Brian P. Kerley;
Kerley, Walsh, Matera & Cinquemani, P.C.;
Seaford,
NY,
for
St. Joseph Hospital ■ David Richman;
Rivkin Radler LLP;
Uniondale,
NY,
for
Scott Springer ■ John C. Henninger;
Geisler, Henninger & Fitzmaurice LLP;
Mineola,
NY,
for
Michael Mendola

Defendant Expert(s):

Michael Persico;
General Surgery;
Valley Stream,
NY called by:
John C. Henninger

Insurer(s):

Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co. for Springer
Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers for Mendola and St. Joseph Hospital

Facts:

On May 3, 2011, plaintiff Mary Alpert, a 54-year-old unemployed woman, underwent resection of a perforated portion of her colon. The damage was a residual product of diverticulitis. Alpert’s diverticulitis may have been signaled by symptoms that she demonstrated on April 20, 2011, when she presented to St. Joseph Hospital, in Bethpage. She claimed that her abdomen was painful, and a test revealed that she was suffering an infection of her urinary tract. Her medical history included diverticulosis, which indicates that the colon’s wall has developed pouches. Diverticulitis involves inflammation of those pouches. Alpert’s symptoms were evaluated by Dr. Michael Mendola, who opined that Alpert may have been suffering diverticulitis. Mendola prescribed an antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, and Alpert was discharged. After two days had passed, Alpert returned to the hospital. A CT scan confirmed that she was suffering diverticulitis. The CT scan also revealed one or more perforations of her colon. Alpert’s surgery was performed after 11 additional days had passed. During her postsurgical convalescence, Alpert underwent a diagnostic procedure that involved administration of an enema. The procedure was performed by Dr. Scott Springer. The enema caused another perforation of Alpert’s colon, and the perforation necessitated further surgery. Alpert sued Mendola, Springer and St. Joseph Hospital. Alpert alleged that Mendola failed to timely diagnose and treat her diverticulitis, that Mendola’s failure led to permanent damage of her colon, that Springer failed to properly administer the enema, that the doctors’ failures constituted malpractice, and that St. Joseph Hospital was vicariously liable for the doctors’ actions. Alpert’s counsel discontinued the claim against St. Joseph Hospital. The matter proceeded to a trial against the doctors, but Springer was discontinued during the trial. The trial continued against Mendola. Alpert’s counsel contended that Alpert’s diverticulitis should have been diagnosed and treated on April 20. He claimed that she exhibited symptoms that should have prompted admission to St. Joseph Hospital, that she should have undergone intravenous administration of medication, and that she should have undergone a CT scan. He contended that the CT scan would have revealed diverticulitis, and he argued that timely intervention would have prevented development of a perforation that ultimately led to resection of a portion of Alpert’s colon. He also contended that ciprofloxacin would not have adequately treated Alpert’s diverticulitis. Defense counsel contended that Mendola appropriately addressed the symptoms that Albert demonstrated on April 20. He noted that Mendola expressed that Alpert may have been suffering diverticulitis, and he argued that ciprofloxacin was an appropriate means of addressing diverticulitis and the infection of Alpert’s urinary tract. He also contended that Alpert’s diverticulitis did not progress during the two days that separated Mendola’s examination and the performance of the CT scan. Defense counsel further claimed that Alpert suffered tiny perforations of the colon, and he argued that the perforations would have healed without intervention. He contended that Alpert’s surgery was an elective procedure that was motivated by immunosuppression that stemmed from treatment of an unrelated condition: lupus.

Injury:

Alpert suffered diverticulitis. She claimed that the condition caused a perforation of her colon. On May 3, 2011, she underwent resection of a perforated portion of her colon. The procedure included creation of an ileostomy, in which her small intestine’s distal end was redirected through the skin of her abdomen. During Alpert’s convalescence, she underwent a diagnostic procedure that involved administration of an enema. The enema caused another perforation of Alpert’s colon, and the perforation necessitated further surgery, which involved removal of a large section of her colon. The procedure also included reversal of her ileostomy. Alpert claimed that she suffers residual incontinence of her bowel. She sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Result:

The jury rendered a defense verdict.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Thomas Feinman

Trial Length:

2
 weeks

Trial Deliberations:

1
 hours

Jury Vote:

5-1

Jury Composition:

3 male/ 3 female

Post Trial:

Justice Thomas Feinman denied plaintiff’s counsel’s motion to set aside the verdict.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by Mendola’s counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents. Plaintiff’s counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls, and the remaining defendants’ counsel was not asked to contribute.