Michigan Verdicts

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Man’s post-operative death was not due to negligence: doctor

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Michigan

Venue:

Ingham County

Court:

Ingham County, Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

other-death; arterial/vascular-embolism; arterial/vascular-deep vein thrombosis

Case Type:

Wrongful Death; Medical Malpractice – Orthopedist, Failure to Treat, Orthopedic Surgeon, Post-Operative Care, Prescription and Medication

Case Name:

Marcia Casey-Cole as Personal Representative of the Estate of James Lee Cole v. Michael Shingles, D.O.,
No. 16-362-NH

Date:

June 8, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Estate of James Lee Cole (Male, 57 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

David T. Tirella;
McKeen & Associates, P.C.;
Detroit,
MI,
for
Estate of James Lee Cole ■ John M. Malone;
McKeen & Associates;
Detroit,
MI,
for
Estate of James Lee Cole

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Jesse Hall; M.D.; Critical Care; Chicago,
IL called by:
David T. Tirella, John M. Malone ■ Nitin Paranjpe; Ph.D.; Economics; Bloomfield Hills,
MI called by:
David T. Tirella, John M. Malone ■ Daniel Spitz; M.D.; Pathology; Clinton Township,
MI called by:
David T. Tirella, John M. Malone ■ Richard Matza; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Waterbury,
CT called by:
David T. Tirella, John M. Malone

Defendant(s):

Michael Shingles

Defense Attorney(s):

Randy J. Hackney;
Hackney Grover;
East Lansing,
MI,
for
Michael Shingles ■ Timothy J. Dardas;
Hackney Grover;
East Lansing,
MI,
for
Michael Shingles

Defendant Expert(s):

Dean Schueller;
Orthopedics;
Ypsilanti,
MI called by:
Randy J. Hackney, Timothy J. Dardas ■ Frank Stafford;
Economics;
Ann Arbor,
MI called by:
Randy J. Hackney, Timothy J. Dardas ■ Thomas Gravelyn;
Pulmonology;
Ypsilanti,
MI called by:
Randy J. Hackney, Timothy J. Dardas ■ Michael Shingles;
Orthopedics;
Lansing,
MI called by:
Randy J. Hackney, Timothy J. Dardas ■ Michael Moutsatson;
Orthopedics;
Mt. Pleasant,
MI called by:
Randy J. Hackney, Timothy J. Dardas

Insurer(s):

Michigan State University

Facts:

On Nov. 18, 2013, plaintiff’s decedent James Lee Cole, 57, was found unresponsive at his home. Emergency services were called, but he was pronounced dead. Cause of death was attributed to pulmonary thromboembolic disease. Cole had been released from the hospital just five days earlier, having undergone surgery on his leg. Marcia Casey-Cole, as personal representative of Cole’s estate, sued orthopedic surgeon Michael Shingles, D.O., who had performed Cole’s surgery. The estate alleged that Shingles was negligent in failing to prescribe anticoagulation drugs to Cole upon his discharge. On Nov. 10, 2013, Cole had been involved in a motor vehicle accident. He suffered a left tibia/fibula fracture and right shoulder dislocation and was treated for his injuries at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Cole was admitted to the trauma service, which requested a consult by the orthopedic service. The trauma service was also listed as Cole’s attending service. Shingles went to Sparrow Hospital on the night of the collision in response to the trauma service’s request for a consult. He evaluated the patient and performed an open reduction with internal fixation, with an intramedullary rod on the patient’s left lower extremity (tibia/fibula). He also performed a closed reduction of the right shoulder dislocation. At the time of his discharge, Cole was given the option of being discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing facility rather than back to his home, but Cole and his spouse elected for discharge home. Cole’s estate alleged that the standard of care required Shingles to ensure Cole was discharged home on pharmaceutical anticoagulation because he was at high risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and/or venous thromboembolism (VTE). The estate further alleged that Cole would not have died from a pulmonary thromboembolic event on Nov. 18, 2013 had he been discharged on anticoagulation medication. The defense contended that the patient was up and ambulating the day after the surgery and the intramedullary rod allowed him to stand and ambulate as tolerated. According to the medical records, the defense argued, Cole used the restroom with assistance every two hours during his hospitalization from Nov. 11, 2013 through Nov. 13, 2013. He was also evaluated daily for risk of VTE and wore a sequential compression device (SCD) on his right lower extremity. Per the defense, the patient was further provided with Lovenox, a DVT prophylaxis, on a daily basis while he was an inpatient. The defense maintained that the medical records supported the fact that there was no evidence for DVT throughout Cole’s inpatient hospitalization. In addition to frequent mobility to the restroom, the defense argued, Cole began inpatient rehabilitation for his injuries. The defense contended that physical therapy notes establish that therapists worked with Cole on post-operative day one (November 11) and post-operative day two (November 12). The patient was given a hemi-walker so he could ambulate with assistance for his leg without having to put weight on his right shoulder, as would happen with use of a more traditional walker. The defense asserted that physical therapy helped the patient increase his mobility and documentation was provided to the jury to show instructions were provided for transfer in and out of a car and how to negotiate stairs. Additionally, the defense contended that the discharge summary on Nov. 13, 2013 shows that Cole had been ambulating and having bowel function, he was tolerating a diet, his pain was well-controlled on oral medications and he was clinically stable, with stable vitals. Shingles denied any violation in the standard of practice. He contended that he was the consulting orthopedic surgeon and he did not discharge the patient from the hospital. Rather, the defense argued, the admitting/attending/discharging trauma service discharged Cole. Further, Shingles argued that he appropriately relied on the trauma service to discharge Cole with instructions and recommendations that addressed his entire traumatic presentation within the trauma service’s expertise. Lastly, Singles argued that evidence-based medicine supported that pharmaceutical anticoagulation does not play a statistically significant role in preventing DVT/PE/VTE in patients with isolated distal extremity fractures such as Cole had.

Injury:

James Lee Cole died due to pulmonary thromboembolic disease following surgery to repair a leg fracture. Shingles denied that anything he did or failed to do contributed to Cole’s death.

Result:

The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found that Shingles did not breach the applicable standard of care.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Joyce Draganchuk

Demand:

$2,000,000

Offer:

None

Trial Length:

7
 days

Trial Deliberations:

2.5
 hours

Jury Vote:

8-0

Post Trial:

Plaintiff’s counsel agreed to forego post-trial motions and an appeal in exchange for defense counsel agreeing to forego the pursuit of costs as the prevailing party.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiff’s counsel did not respond to a request for comment.