Recently, ARP attorneys Mary Ellen Busch and Christopher T. Scolire obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a surgeon and his group. In July 2013, the plaintiff visited the defendant-general surgeon for a second opinion for a mass on his left neck. The surgeon evaluated the mass and ordered a CT scan, which revealed a multi-lobulated lipoma in the intramuscular portion of the left neck. The surgeon and the plaintiff discussed the completely elective excisional procedure and risks of the procedure at this time, including that the entire lipoma may not be completely removed due to its position.
In January 2014, the surgeon removed lipoma from the subcutaneous tissue that was the same size as the lipoma seen on the pre-operative CT scan. When that tissue was submitted to pathology, the pathology diagnosis was “mature adipose tissue consistent with a lipoma.” A couple weeks later, another CT scan was done and that scan revealed that the intramuscular lipoma remained. The surgeon offered another excisional procedure, but the plaintiff refused and never returned to him. Additional healthcare providers also offered excisional procedures to the plaintiff, with the same risks as before, and he has also refused those procedures.
Ms. Busch and Mr. Scolire successfully argued that the surgeon did not deviate from the standard of care. Essentially, the testimony from experts and the plaintiff’s treating physicians established that the surgeon had removed all of the lipomatous tissue that he saw in the plaintiff’s left neck, and because it was a lipoma and similar in size to what was seen on the pre-operative CT scan, there was no reason for him to continue exploring and digging into the muscles. This lipoma, in particular, was not fixed to the muscle and could move from the intramuscular portion of the neck to the subcutaneous portion depending on positioning and how the lipoma is manipulated. Additionally, because it was a multi-lobulated lipoma, similar in appearance to a cluster of grapes, it is more difficult to remove the entire lipoma. Finally, all of the healthcare providers who testified in this case, including Plaintiff’s general surgery expert, testified that removing only a portion of a mass is not a deviation from the standard of care.
The plaintiff claimed that the surgeon’s failure to remove the entire lipoma caused him both physical and psychological injuries. The plaintiff asked for $834,191.00 from the jury, and the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defendants.