MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: $4.5 MILLION
Injuries claimed: Total and permanent disability characterized by upper and lower extremity weakness, blurred vision and dysphagia. He requires botox injections every 3 months with adjunct physical therapy to control spasticity in his left arm and leg. Confined to wheel chair with limited ability to stand and walk. He is unable to work, having an established earning capacity of $60,000 in various positions.
Court: Circuit Court for Sheboygan County
Case name: Mark and Cathy Patton v. Roland Brilla, M.D., et al.
Case number: 07-CV-376
Judge: Hon. James Bolgert
Verdict & settlement: Case setttled prior to trial
Amount: The case settled for $4.5 million with the assistance of Charles Stierman following mediation.
Date of incident: May 20, 2004
Disposition date: April 23, 2009
Original filing date: April 26, 2007
Plaintiffs attorney (firm): Lynn R. Laufenberg, Laufenberg Law Group, SC, Milwaukee
Defendants attorney (firm): Mark Larson for Dr. Brilla, Gutglass, Erickson & Bonnville, SC, Milwaukee; For Dr. Siddique: Michael P. Malone, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Milwaukee; For the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compen-sation Fund: Jeremy Gill, Nash, Spindler, Grimstad and McCracken, Manitowoc
Plaintiffs expert witnesses: Candice Perkins, M.D., stroke neurology; Axel Rosengart, M.D., stroke neurologist; Robert Peyster, M.D., neuroradiology; Gaston da Costa, M.D., general neurology; Henry Alba, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation; Rick Ruvin, home modifications; Ross K. Lynch, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation; David Ward, Ph.D., economist.
Defendants expert witnesses: Daniel Labovitz, M.D., stroke neurologist; Stephen Futterer, M.D., neuroradiology; Leonard Berlin, M.D., radiology; Victor Haughton, M.D., neuroradiology; Lawrence Dineen, life care planning and vocational rehabilitation; Jubin Merati, Ph.D., economist.
Plaintiff counsel’s summary of the facts: Mark Patton, then 41 years old, saw Roland Brilla, M.D., a neurologist, in May 2004 with episodic symptoms of vertigo, hallucinations, headaches and double vision. Dr. Brilla noted that an MRI was normal and told Patton the symptoms were most likely “non-organic.” The symptoms seemed to disappear later that summer, but returned in October 2005. On Nov. 2, Patton was seen again by Dr. Brilla for worsening of his symptoms of double vision, vertigo, headaches and new right-sided numbness and weakness. Dr. Brilla again told the Pattons that the symptoms were most likely non-organic, but agreed to obtain another MRI on an out-patient basis. The MRI, obtained on Nov. 5, was interpreted by Dr. Awais Siddique, a radiologist, as showing an acute brain stem stroke. Dr. Siddique claimed that he reported these results on a “stat” basis, but did not document to whom and when the report was made. Dr. Brilla denied receiving that report and first learned of the results when he was called by an emergency room physician on Nov. 8. Patton was taken to the emergency room that morning with significant worsening of his symptoms. He was transferred to the care of the stroke team at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital where diagnosis of brain stem stroke due to blockage of the basilar artery was confirmed. There was a progression of the stroke at Froedtert and Patton was temporarily in a “locked in” state. Patton is totally disabled by the effects of the stroke.
According to the Pattons’ experts, Dr. Brilla was negligent in failing to recognize the symptoms as evidence of brain stem transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) due to posterior circulation insufficiency. Dr. Siddique was negligent in failing to confirm that his claimed “stat report” of MRI findings was received and acted upon. Plaintiffs’ experts testified that another MRI or other study of the vessels of the brain should have been done in May 2004 and would in all likelihood have shown significant narrowing of the basilar artery. They believe the brain stem stroke could probably have been prevented with the use of anti-coagulants, close monitoring and, if necessary, stenting of the artery. Defense experts said that Dr. Brilla was excused from recognizing potential brain stem TIAs because brain stem strokes are relatively rare, Patton was young and had no significant risk factors for stroke and his presentation of symptoms was “unusual.” De-fense experts also suggested that ultimate stroke may have occurred even with earlier diagnosis and treatment, pointing to the relatively higher mortality and morbidity rates associated with posterior circulation strokes.