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Docs overlooked damage of patient’s colon, suit alleged






New York


Kings County


Kings Supreme

Injury Type(s):

other-sepsis; other-infection; other-septic shock; epidermis-gangrene; amputation-leg (below the knee); amputation-foot; sensory/speech-hearing, partial loss of;
arterial/vascular surgeries/treatment-colostomy; surgeries/treatment-skin graft; gastrointestinal/digestive-bowel/colon/intestine, perforation

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – OB-GYN, Delayed Treatment, Failure to Detect, Failure to Diagnose, Post-Operative Care, Premature Discharge, Gynecological Surgery, Failure to Communicate

Case Name:

Stacey Galette v. Paul Byrne M.D. Michelle Quinones, M.D., Frederic Moon, D.O., Craig Zebuda, M.D., Cynthia A. Fretwell, M.D., David Halpern, M.D., Paul R. Byrne, M.D., P.C., Women’s Contemportaty Care Associates, P.C., Nassau Surgical Associates, P.C., and Winthrop University Hospital,
No. 28327/10


January 10, 2014



Stacey Galette (Female, 29 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Ira M. Newman;
Sanocki, Newman & Turret, LLP;
New York,
Stacey Galette ■ Sanford A. Rubenstein;
Rubenstein & Rynecki;
Stacey Galette ■ Edward J. Sanocki;
Sanocki, Newman & Turret, LLP;
New York,
Stacey Galette

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Peter Stickney;

Life Care Planning;
NY called by
Ira M. Newman, Sanford A. Rubenstein, Edward J. Sanocki ■ Martin Gubernick;
New York,
NY called by
Ira M. Newman, Sanford A. Rubenstein, Edward J. Sanocki ■ Thomas Gouge;
New York,
NY called by
Ira M. Newman, Sanford A. Rubenstein, Edward J. Sanocki ■ Christopher Kyriakides;
Physical Medicine;
NY called by
Ira M. Newman, Sanford A. Rubenstein, Edward J. Sanocki


Paul Byrne, 

Craig Zebuda, 

Fredric Moon, 

David Halpern, 

Cynthia Fretwell, 

Michelle Quinones, 

Paul R. Byrne M.D. P.C., 

Winthrop-University Hospital, 

Nassau Surgical Associates, P.C., 

Women’s Contemporary Care Associates P.C.

Defense Attorney(s):

John D. Paterniti;
Shaub, Ahmuty, Citrin & Spratt LLP;
New York,
David Halpern, Nassau Surgical Associates, P.C. ■ Peter DeNoto;
Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP;
Garden City,
Winthrop-University Hospital ■ Guido Gabriele;
Gabriele & Marano LLP;
Garden City,
Paul Byrne, Craig Zebuda, Fredric Moon, Cynthia Fretwell, Michelle Quinones, Paul R. Byrne M.D. P.C., Women’s Contemporary Care Associates P.C.

Defendant Expert(s):

James Finger;
Basking Ridge,
NJ called by
Peter DeNoto ■ Pedro Segarra;
Jackson Heights,
NY called by
Peter DeNoto ■ Milton Haynes;
New York,
NY called by
Guido Gabriele ■ Michael Grieco;
Colon & Rectal Surgery;
Glen Cove,
NY called by
Peter DeNoto


Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co. for Byrne, Fretwell, Moon, Paul R. Byrne M.D. P.C., Quinones, Women’s Contemporary Care Associates and Zebuda
Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers for Halpern and Nassau Surgical Associates


On Oct. 6, 2009, plaintiff Stacey Galette, 29, a medical assistant, underwent a salpingectomy, which involved the laparoscopic removal of a fallopian tube that contained an ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that develops outside of the mother’s uterus. The procedure was performed by Dr. Michelle Quinones, at Winthrop-University Hospital, in Mineola. Gynecologist Dr. Paul Byrne supervised Quinones, who was one of the hospital’s residents. After the surgery had been completed, Galette developed a painful condition of her abdomen. Her hospitalization lasted until Oct. 8, 2009, when she was discharged by gynecologist Dr. Fredric Moon. During the ensuing day, Galette returned to the hospital. She reported that her pain had not subsided. She was examined by physician Dr. Craig Zebuda and gynecologist Dr. Cynthia Fretwell. After having consulted a surgeon, Dr. David Halpern, Fretwell opined that Galette was suffering an obstruction of her small intestines. Galette was readmitted to the hospital. Galette’s symptoms worsened. After two days had passed, doctors determined that she was suffering septic shock. Halpern performed exploratory surgery, and he discovered a perforation of Galette’s sigmoid colon. Galette claimed that the perforation occurred during the salpingectomy that Quinones performed. Galette underwent extensive treatment, but she experienced a complication that caused her development of gangrene that ultimately necessitated the amputation of the lower portion of each leg. Galette sued Byrne; Byrne’s practice, Paul R. Byrne M.D. P.C.; Fretwell; Fretwell’s practice, Women’s Contemporary Care Associates P.C.; Halpern; Halpern’s practice, Nassau Surgical Associates, P.C.; Moon; Quinones; Zebuda; and Winthrop-University Hospital. Galette alleged that Quinones failed to properly perform the salpingectomy; that Byrne failed to properly supervise Quinones; that Fretwell, Halpern, Moon and Zebuda failed to timely diagnose the injury that Quinones caused; that the hospital’s staff failed to timely address deterioration of her condition; and that the failures constituted malpractice. Galette further alleged that Byrne’s practice was vicariously liable for Byrne’s actions, that Fretwell’s practice was vicariously liable for Fretwell’s actions, that Halpern’s practice was vicariously liable for Halpern’s actions, and that Winthrop-University Hospital was vicariously liable for the actions of Moon, Quinones and Zebuda. Galette’s counsel ultimately discontinued the claims against Quinones and Zebuda. The matter proceeded to a trial against the remaining defendants. Galette’s counsel contended that Quinones caused the perforation of Galette’s sigmoid colon. They claimed that Halperin’s notes indicated that the perforation’s size and location suggested that it was caused by Quinones. Galette’s counsel contended that the wound should have been detected during the surgery, and they claimed that Byrne should have detected the wound. Galette’s counsel also contended that Quinones did not possess experience that would ensure proper performance of the salpingectomy. They further claimed that Quinones acknowledged that Galette was suffering a distended bowel, and they contended that the bowel’s distention increased the likelihood of a perforation. They argued that Byrne should not have permitted Quinones’ performance of the procedure. They contended that Byrne departed from accepted standards of medical care. Galette’s counsel also contended that Fretwell, Halpern and Moon improperly interpreted postsurgical symptoms that suggested that Galette was suffering a perforation of her bowel. They contended that Moon prematurely discharged Galette, that exploratory surgery was not timely performed and that Halpern did not timely receive notice of deterioration of Galette’s condition. They claimed that prompt diagnosis and treatment would have averted the amputations that Galette underwent. They argued that Fretwell, Halpern, Moon and the hospital’s staff departed from accepted standards of medical care. During the trial, Galette, Halpern and Halpern’s practice negotiated a settlement. Halpern and his practice agreed to pay a total of $2.3 million. The trial continued against the remaining defendants. Defense counsel contended that Galette’s counsel did not conclusively establish that Galette’s colon was perforated during the surgery that Quinones performed. They suggested that the perforation developed after the procedure had been completed. Defense counsel also contended that Galette’s sepsis was an accepted risk of the surgery that Quinones performed, and they argued that Galette voluntarily assumed that risk. Fretwell’s counsel contended that Fretwell appropriately addressed Galette’s postsurgical symptoms. He contended that the doctor appropriately concluded that Galette was suffering an obstruction of her small intestines.


Galette suffered a perforation of her sigmoid colon. The perforation caused a leak that led to her development of an infection, sepsis and septic shock. Galette’s counsel claimed that Galette’s sepsis required aggressive treatment that included the administration of medication that regulated her blood’s pressure. They contended that the medication caused a collapse of veins of her legs. Galette developed residual gangrene. She underwent amputation of her feet, but her gangrene progressed. She ultimately underwent a below-the-knee amputation of each leg. She also underwent a colostomy and many additional procedures, which included the grafting of skin. Her hospitalization lasted 102 days, and it was followed by a lengthy course of rehabilitation. Galette wears prosthetic limbs. She also suffers a severe residual diminution of each ear’s audition. Galette sought recovery of $4 million for future medical expenses, $22 million for past pain and suffering, and $71 million for future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Galette exaggerated the cost of her future medical needs.


The jury found that Byrne, Fretwell, Moon and Winthrop-University Hospital’s staff departed from accepted standards of medical care. The hospital was assigned 40 percent of the liability; Byrne was assigned 30 percent of the liability; Fretwell was assigned 20 percent of the liability; and Moon was assigned 10 percent of the liability. The jury determined that Galette’s damages totaled $62 million. The in-trial settlement added $2.3 million.

Stacey Galette: $4,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost; $20,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering; $38,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering

Actual Award:


Trial Information:


Ann T. Pfau

Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Additional information was gleaned from an article that was published by Newsday. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.