Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice involves an act or an omission by a health care provider that deviates from accepted standards of practice and which causes injury to a patient. The elements necessary for the establishment of such a claim are that: (a) there was a legal duty; (b) that duty was breached; and (c) the breach caused an injury – financial or emotional. Expert witnesses are necessary in medical malpractice litigation to testify to issues relating to the standard of care that applied. Damages recoverable by a victim of medical malpractice may include compensatory and punitive damages, and damages may be assessed based on past and future loss.

The Duffy Firm has obtained recoveries and settlements from most of the large teaching hospitals and universities in the Philadelphia area. These include recorded verdicts against the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Wills Eye Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Temple University Hospital, Misericordia Hospital, Jeanes Hospital, Aria Health and Mercy Catholic Medical Center.

  • A young mother took her 18-month-old child into a Philadelphia hospital emergency room on a Saturday night with a fever. After being admitted, the child developed sepsis and gangrene. After the lawsuit was filed and a demand letter sent, without taking a single deposition, Tom Duffy secured a $44,000,000 settlement for the family, the largest medical malpractice settlement in Pennsylvania history
  • In Campbell, The Duffy Firm won a $21,400,000 verdict on behalf of a diabetic man for treatment he received in the emergency room of Temple University Hospital. When Ronald Campbell was taken to the hospital in October of 2007, he was administered glucagons and glucopaste by emergency medical technicians, then discharged to family members, who found him unresponsive in bed the next morning. The defense argued that the treatment and discharge was proper, as Mr. Campbell had been brought to the hospital 11 times for high or low blood sugar levels in the five years prior (including one visit two days earlier), and that he failed to properly manage his diabetes by not complying with medical advice. However, the firm successfully argued that diabetics who suffer from repeated episodes of hypoglycemia develop a condition termed 'hypoglycemic unawareness' in which the brain becomes less sensitive to lower and lower glucose levels.
  • The Duffy Firm obtained a $20,500,000 confidential settlement from a major Philadelphia hospital and its doctors based on proof that the doctors failed to appreciate distress on a fetal monitoring strip. The doctors delayed performing a cesarean section which resulted in anoxic injury to the child and severe cerebral palsy.
  • A $15,000,000 confidential medical malpractice settlement was obtained against a hospital for a 33-year-old woman who suffered a stroke weeks after being discharged from the emergency room despite similar complaints. She now has a condition known as locked-in syndrome; much of her body and face is paralyzed, although she can communicate by performing certain eye movements (up and down) and slightly squeezing her right hand. Despite her care occurring in Montgomery County, The Duffy Firm was successful in establishing and keeping the action in Philadelphia County.
  • The Duffy Firm obtained a $13,500,000 confidential settlement from a major Philadelphia hospital and its doctors based on our proof that an attending maternal fetal medicine physician and residents who were asked to monitor a mother's labor failed to see that an increase in her glucose level was caused by a failure to properly administer insulin. The doctors delayed initiating delivery for the child, resulting in an anoxic injury, causing severe cerebral palsy.
  • A young professional man visited a hospital ER in the region complaining of back pain, chest pain, headache and cough. Even though a number of tests indicated emergency surgery was needed that could not be performed at that hospital, the hospital delayed the transfer of the patient to another hospital and failed to include critical test results when the patient was finally transferred. Sadly, the patient died. The defendants argued that underlying medical issues, including Marfan syndrome and mitral valve prolapse, were contributing factors out of their control, that the patient was in significant end-organ dysfunction upon arrival and that he would not have survived the surgery. However, The Duffy Firm obtained a $7,500,000 settlement for his surviving wife and young child.
  • In Divon, The Duffy Firm won a $6,000,000 verdict against Wills Eye Hospital for Peter Divon, a forklift operator who suffered blindness in one eye as a result of an infection which developed following a surgery to repair a detached retina. The verdict was reported as one of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania that year.
  • In Williams, The Duffy Firm secured a $5,700,000 verdict after a mentally impaired man who had been admitted to a hospital for self-inflicted stab wounds was left alone and leaped from a fourth-floor window.
  • A confidential settlement of $5,000,000 was obtained for a child who suffered severe cerebral palsy due to head trauma that was sustained when the doctors improperly used instruments during delivery.
  • A confidential settlement of $4,500,000 was obtained from a teaching hospital and attending physician who failed to recognize that an expectant mother had had a recent outbreak of herpes. The doctor permitted the mother to deliver the child vaginally, exposing the child to the herpes virus, which caused severe cerebral palsy. The child was 15 when the mother first approached The Duffy Firm, after another attorney had reviewed the case and turned it down.
  • In Smith, The Duffy Firm won a $4,500,000 verdict against Misericordia Hospital, finding the hospital negligent in the testing and treatment of David Smith, ultimately resulting in his death. Mr. Smith was taken by his mother to Misericordia, and ultimately died of an aortic dissection after the hospital staff failed to properly treat or diagnose his condition. The jury returned its verdict after a two-week-long trial. The verdict was reported as one of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania that year.
  • A confidential settlement of $3,800,000 was attained for a boy who, 28 hours after birth, developed necrotizing endocolitis (NEC). Failure to properly diagnose the NEC resulted in a decrease in oxygen saturation that ultimately caused an anoxic injury and cerebral palsy to the boy.
  • The Duffy Firm secured a $3,500,000 settlement in a case where a 39-year-old man in good health was brought to the emergency room with complaints of a headache so severe that he could not stand or function at work. After about an hour in the ER, he felt better. Without ordering a CAT scan or neurological consultation, the ER discharged the man. Weeks later, he collapsed on the street and was rushed to the hospital, where imaging showed a brain lesion responsible for his headaches had ruptured, leaving him with irreversible and permanent brain damage. He never fully regained consciousness and died 3 years later.
  • In Williams, The Duffy Firm obtained $2,750,000 for a man with a history of schizophrenia who, left unattended in a crisis response center waiting for treatment for conjunctivitis, went into a bathroom and removed his own eye.
  • A confidential settlement of $2,250,000 was reached for a baby with cerebral palsy who was delivered by a midwife and nurses who failed to recognize the significance of deceleration and drop in the baseline on the fetal monitor.
  • In Graves, a jury returned a verdict of $2,000,000 for a client of The Duffy Firm following a 5-day trial, finding that Hahnemann Hospital and its staff committed malpractice during a surgical procedure when nerves in our client's throat were accidentally cut. This verdict was especially impressive considering no claim for lost wages or medical bills was made – the verdict was based entirely on “pain and suffering."
  • The Duffy Firm won a $1,500,000 settlement for a boy with Erb's Palsy caused by an attending doctor's negligent delivery after a shoulder dystocia was encountered. The doctor failed to perform the necessary maneuvers to avoid an injury.
  • When a young man in his 30’s with a history of alcohol abuse was found unconscious at the apartment of a friend, he was brought to an area emergency room for treatment. While still in the ER, he had a series of seizures, and his condition deteriorated to the point where he was brought to the ICU and placed on a ventilator. Though he became well enough to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility, the damage had been done. His brain was injured to the point of having to re-learn basically every functional task and he now requires 24/7 supervision. Though the defendants claimed that the brain damage was from alcohol poisoning, The Duffy Firm brought in experts who testified that the brain damage was from hypoglycemia, which could have been easily treated and prevented brain injury. The case settled for $1,250,000.
  • In Gregory, a 28-year-old father went to the hospital after waking up disoriented in the middle of the night. During three successive hospital stays, he continued to have impairment. The Duffy Firm established that physicians missed symptoms indicating a nervous system infection and obtained a jury award of $1.1 million.
  • We obtained a confidential settlement against a large Philadelphia hospital and resident physician group after our client, a 51-year-old happily married and employed man with two young children and some minor health issues, underwent spinal surgery at the recommendation of the physicians. The surgery left him with complications that involved having the ability to swallow only with difficulty and being at risk for aspiration. Though he died from completely unrelated causes, The Duffy Firm was able to secure $1,000,000 in compensation for his family.
  • A 36-year-old woman went to the emergency room with difficulty breathing. Though initial testing showed she was in acute hypoxic respiratory failure, she was kept in the ER overnight as her conditions worsened, but never admitted to the hospital. The next day, while still in the ER, the woman died. Though the hospital argued the woman’s complicated medical history (including asthma, pneumonia, and obesity) was the cause, The Duffy Firm secured a confidential settlement of $850,000 for the family she left behind.
  • In Rivera, The Duffy Firm successfully argued before a Philadelphia jury that a 31-year-old man’s poor care at a local hospital led to his death, obtaining a $750,000 verdict for his family.
  • In this confidential case, a client had sought care at a Philadelphia emergency room for pain in his left foot, left hip, and left shoulder. Tests were done and the client was discharged with a diagnosis of shoulder pain, toe fracture, and hub/thumb bruise/contusion. However, when the X-rays were officially read after the discharge, the radiologist found an irregularity that was never communicated to the patient. The delay in treatment resulted in permanent shoulder problems for the client, for whom the firm obtained a $500,000 settlement.
  • In Wright, a child was left with permanent scarring and discoloration of skin due to the way forceps were applied at birth at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The defense argued that the feature was simply a birthmark that showed up months after she was born. To protect the child’s well-being, the case was largely presented through photographs. The Duffy Firm obtained a $350,000 verdict on behalf of the child.

See more examples of successful verdicts and settlements obtained by The Duffy Firm >>