On November 20, 2014, a young Ulster County couple prevailed in their medical malpractice lawsuit when a jury of their peers returned a verdict in the amount of $1.75 million dollars.
According to court documents, plaintiff, Nancy Nocito, was injured in June of 2009 while receiving medical care and treatment from defendants, Robert W. Lobel, M.D., Jeanne Ann Dahl, RNC, NP and Northeast Urogynecology, Pelvic Medicine, and Reconstructive Surgery, P.C. Defendants were treating Nancy for complications related to the birth of her second child.
Plaintiffs, in their pleadings, alleged that defendants departed from good and accepted standards of medical care by, amongst other things, negligently performing surgery and failing to properly care for and treat Nancy post-operatively, including failing to properly diagnose and treat an infection that developed following the surgery.
During the seven day trial in Albany County Supreme Court, plaintiffs’ attorneys, Laura M. Jordan and Margie A. Soehl, partners at the Albany based law firm of Powers & Santola, LLP, presented evidence to the jury in the form of plaintiffs’ testimony, plaintiff’s certified medical records and expert witness testimony.
One of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, Dr. Michael D. Hellinger, a board certified colon and rectal surgeon, testified that the surgery performed by defendant, Dr. Lobel, fell below the standard of care required and negligently caused nerve damage, which only served to worsen Nancy’s condition. Shortly after the surgery, Nancy also developed an infection which formed an abscess inside her body.
The medical records revealed that, despite plaintiff’s continued phone calls and office visits, wherein she voiced her concerns regarding her condition to both Dr. Lobel and Nurse Dahl, the defendants failed to properly treat the abscess and infection for over two months causing significant harm to Nancy’s body. Ultimately Nancy Nocito was evaluated by another surgeon and required four surgeries to cure the infection. However, according to Dr. Hellinger, had the infection been timely diagnosed and properly treated by defendants, Nancy would not have suffered irreversible injuries.
Throughout their case-in-chief, Ms. Jordan and Ms. Soehl were able to prove that, as a result of defendants’ departure from good and accepted standards of medical care, Nancy suffered permanent effects from the improperly performed surgical procedure and infection, including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. “Nancy put her trust and health in the hands of Dr. Lobel and Nurse Dahl only to have that trust violated” stated Laura M. Jordan.
On November 19, 2014, acting Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Kimberly A. O’Connor, read the charges to the jury for their deliberation. The jury reached their decision the following day and, according to court documents, found Dr. Lobel 75% liable for plaintiffs’ damages and Jeanne Ann Dahl 25% liable for plaintiffs’ damages. Margie A. Soehl stated “The jurors after deliberating expressed their keen awareness of Nancy’s suffering; one commenting that the facts were there and that the evidence spoke for itself, in their finding of negligence.”
The jury awarded plaintiff, Nancy Nocito, $500,000 for past pain and suffering and $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The jury went on to award plaintiff, James Nocito, Nancy’s husband, $250,000 for loss of spousal services and society. Laura M. Jordan stated “The jury clearly recognized that Dr. Lobel and Nurse Dahl needed be held responsible for the harms they caused Nancy.”