The Snake Pit – PART ONE

What happened to this wonderful woman, the mother of two adult children, is almost too unbelievable to be true. But it happened.  

My client was in the kitchen cooking and suddenly felt weak. She dropped the spoon she was holding in her hand, unable to feel or use one side of her body. She fell to the floor. My client tried to speak but her words were coming out slurred. Her son found her there within moments of this episode and called 911. She was taken to the hospital immediately and arrived within five minutes. So far so good. What happened next was the unfolding of my client’s own personal nightmare. 

In the emergency room of a well known hospital my client was “evaluated”.  She was asked questions but could not speak her answers. She was not making sense. She was only able to stutter and speak gibberish. 

By the time her son arrived on the heels of the ambulance, she had been admitted…to the psychiatric ward.



The Man With the Serpentined Tongue Part Two

Because the injury that my client suffered was so unusual, it took longer than usual to settle the case. There was no precedent in any of the courts in New York for this type of injury. We had already agreed which doctor was at fault but my opposing counsel, the lawyer for the doctors, kept minimizing my client’s injury and saying that it was not so bad. I of course disagreed and would not back down from my position that this was a grave injury.

I had listened to my client explain to me in his now halting and almost unintelligible speech, all of the problems and suffering he endured as a result of the injury. The look of his tongue was bad enough but also his speech was effected and even his sense of taste. This was more important to him than the average person since my client worked as a cook!

One day in court while arguing about the case before the judge – I was making my case and the lawyer for the doctor was making his point- the judge used a novel method to facilitate settlement. The judge, who of course could not show partiality, called out to his Law Clerk as she passed by and shouted “What do you think about the settlement value of this case – a man’s tongue was split in half during surgery”?

Her answer? She screamed!

The judge and I turned in unison to look at the lawyer for the doctors, saying nothing. The case settled shortly afterwards.

My stubbornness with opposing counsel paid off. I was able to get a good settlement for him. Of course no amount of money can ever make a person whole.

The Man With The Serpentined Tongued PART ONE

A young man consulted me about a possible medical malpractice case. As soon as he began to speak I could tell that he had suffered a terrible injury. He spoke with a distinct speech impediment, as if his mouth were stuffed with cotton balls.

As he told me his story it became clear why.

My soon-to-be client told me the story about a recent surgery that he had. After having months of severe headaches, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, it was benign and it was operable; his world class surgeon assured him that he would be as good as new after surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was to be performed under general anesthesia and my client would be intubated.

Intubation is the process of inserting a tube, called an endotracheal tube, into the mouth and then into the airway. This is done so that a patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing. Intubation is required when general anesthesia is given.

The surgery proceeded but took longer than expected and when my client woke up he could no longer speak.
When he was able to open his mouth and look in the mirror, he was horrified – his tongue had been split in two, straight down the middle, like a serpent’s tongue.

His doctors explained to him that the intubation tube that was inserted into his mouth and down this throat put pressure on his tongue and, during the long surgery, literally cut his tongue in half.

He was told that it was an unfortunate accident – a risk of the surgery. He was told he should be happy that his brain surgery was a success.

My client disagreed. He was not happy. Neither was I.


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A Deadly Heart Transplant PART TWO

While my client lay in a coma for many weeks, an investigation into what went wrong was begun. It was discovered that, apparently in his rush to open the unit on time and perform his first surgery, the surgeon procured a heart for transplant from a donor who was not a match for my client.

The heart my client was to receive was never tested to ensure the transplant would be successful. My client’s body rejected the heart because it was not compatible with her blood type and she had a cardiac arrest in the operating room. After many agonizing months, she died without ever waking up.

I was successful in settling this case for the family

While no amount of money in the world could bring back their mother…their grandmother, at least they were comforted to know that the doctor was held accountable and strict safeguards were put in place to ensure the same error would not occur. The highly regarded surgeon did not remain employed.

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A Deadly Heart Transplant that broke a family’s heart – PART ONE

Some years ago a major medical center in New York was touting the new heart transplant unit that they were opening to much fanfare. This medical center was bringing on board a highly respected and experienced heart transplant doctor. Announcements in the medical and general press were made.

My client, a 64 year old grandmother with adult children, was to be the first patient. The family, a close knit family, was very excited and glad that their ailing mother and grandmother would soon be the recipient of a new heart. They were comforted to know that she would be the first patient in this brand new unit and was going to be operated on by this well known and regarded doctor.

That was the last happy moment the family had and the last time they saw their loved one alive. After surgery the patient, my client, never woke up.

During the surgery something went horribly wrong. During the weeks that followed while my client lay in a coma, her distraught family sought an answer about what happened to their loved one. My client never woke up again and, after weeks of agony for the family, sadly, she died.
To be continued
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