On July 30, 2008 Raymond Gaspard, then 59 years old, underwent his first colonoscopy. A suspicious polyp was discovered and Mr. Gaspard was referred to a colorectal surgeon who performed a second colonoscopy the next day. The polyp was too large to remove at that time; instead a CT scan was scheduled for five days later at which time a perforation in his colon was discovered.
Mr. Gaspard sued the colorectal surgeon alleging that the doctor failed to advise him regarding the signs and symptoms of a colon perforation following a colonoscopy, and then failed to properly treat the infected perforation after it had been detected in the CT scan.
A Kings County jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him pain and suffering damages in the sum of $1,000,000 ($600,000 past – six years, $400,000 future – 16 years). Defendants’ post-trial motion to set aside the verdict was denied in a thorough, well-reasoned decision and, in Gaspard v. Aronoff (2d Dept. 2017), both the liability and damages verdicts have been affirmed.
Here are the injury details:
- acute peritonitis and sepsis (with night sweats, fever, diarrhea, fatigue and extreme, agonizing stomach pain)
- emergency Hartmann’s procedure (to remove a foot-long section of the sigmoid colon and create a colostomy) with one week hospital admission
- visiting nurses for one month to manage the colostomy bag (that was messy, smelly, cumbersome and embarrassing)
- second surgery to reverse the colostomy four months after it was placed (with two week hospital admission due to complications from a bowel obstruction including fevers, projectile vomiting and extreme agony)
- third surgery two years later – incisional hernia repair (due to improper healing of the surgical wound)
- unable to return to work until early 2009
- continuing episodes of incontinence and abdominal pain
- diminished energy and stamina with resultant inability to return to prior levels of activity
- Defendants contended that plaintiff was not entitled to any recovery for past pain and suffering because there was no evidence he sustained pain and suffering beyond the colonoscopy complication. They also argued that there was minimal damage because plaintiff needed a colectomy in any event due to the mass that led to the CT scan.
- Plaintiff’s pre-trial settlement demand was $500,000; there was no offer.
- The jury deliberated for only 20 minutes before returning its verdict.
- The trial featured two of New York’s leading and most respected medical malpractice firms – Godosky & Gentile, P.C. for plaintiff and Martin Clearwater & Bell, LLP for the defendants.