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MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT REPORT

Founding partner, Richard A. Gurfein, tried a medical malpractice case to verdict in Nassau County, NY. The jury awarded the family of a 60 year old auto mechanic $3.6 million dollars for his wrongful death. 

On July 23, 2010, Nelson Zuluaga drove himself to Winthrop Hospital because he was having chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations.  These were the same symptoms he had 4 months earlier, in March, that also brought him to Winthrop’s emergency room.  At that time a cardiologist assigned to him diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation and performed a cardioversion (synchronized shock to the heart) and restored his normal heartbeat.

Mr. Zuluaga was admitted to the Winthrop Hospital from the emergency room and placed on a telemetry floor until Monday when the cardiologist planned to do another cardioversion.  However, around Midnight the first night he had an episode of 5 beats of ventricular tachycardia, renewed chest pain at a lower heart rate and a prolonged QT interval on his EKG.

  These three new symptoms should have caused him to be moved to the CCU or coronary care unit where there would be more intensive monitoring of his condition.  He was not moved.  The following night, Saturday night at 2:40 AM Sunday morning, he again experienced 5 beats of ventricular tachycardia and the nurse notified the resident on call.  This time no one came to the floor to examine Mr. Zuluaga, no vital signs were recorded in the chart, no orders were given and he was not transferred to the CCU.  At 5:50AM he suffered a cardiac arrest and a team was called to the telemetry floor.  Resuscitation lasted one hour and twenty minutes.  He was shocked on 4 separate occasions.  He survived, but suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen due to the extra time it took to start resuscitation.  Had he been in the CCU, resuscitation would have begun much sooner and brain damage would have been avoided.

Mr. Zuluaga spent the next 5 and a half months at Winthrop Hospital with a myriad of medical problems caused by the brain damage and inactivity.  He was then transferred to A. Holly Patterson Nursing Home and with a few short weeks of their therapies he was able to speak and make purposeful movements of his arms and legs.  Unfortunately, while he was immobile at Winthrop a feeding tube had to be inserted through the stomach wall because he could not control his muscles sufficiently to chew or swallow.  That tube became clogged on April 14, 2011 and he was taken to Nassau University Medical Center for evaluation and surgery.  Before that could be done he suffered a respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated and passed away on April 15, 2011, nine months after the arrest at Winthrop.

The jury made awards for wrongful death, medical expenses, loss of wages, loss of pension benefits, conscious pain and suffering and loss of consortium totaling $3,600,069.00 against Winthrop Hospital for the failure of the resident on call to respond to the nurse’s notice of 5 beats of ventricular tachycardia.

Mr. Zuluaga is survived by his wife, Isabel, his children Nelson B. and Nelisa and one grandchild. 

CONSTRUCTION WORKER INJURED IN LIMO RIDE

$1,000,000 settlement after a trial on liability for a 35 year old plasterer who was a passenger in the back seat of a Town Car limo.

The plaintiff and his wife and children had come to New York for the day from Boston. Because his wife worked for an airline it was very inexpensive for them to fly to New York to do their Christmas shopping. On the way back to LaGuardia Airport the limo driver got lost and wound up in the back of the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia. After stopping for instructions he made a U-turn directly in front of a airline pilot driving to the employee parking lot. The pilot’s car impacted the rear, driver’s side door directly into the husband.

He sustained serious and permanent back injuries as a result of the crash and could no longer work as a plasterer. The jury found the limo driver 75% at fault and the pilot 25% at fault. The case settled for $1,000,000 before the start of the trial on damages.

ERB’S PALSY

$1,200,000 settlement on behalf of a 4 year child with Erb’s Palsy.

This was the second delivery for this 36 year old mother who gained 34 lbs. during her pregnancy. She went into labor about one week past her due date and was in labor in the hospital approximately 10 hours. She delivered a 9 lb 9oz baby after a shoulder dystocia (shoulder stuck behind pubic bone).

The delivery was videotaped by the Mom’s sister. The videotape showed the doctor using all her weight to push the baby’s head down to try to relieve the stuck shoulder. This was the absolutely wrong way to deliver this child. The doctor failed to use the established maneuvers for freeing a stuck shoulder. That caused permanent damage to the nerves exiting the spine in the neck leaving this child with a useless arm (Erb’s Palsy).

The settlement was structured to provide future income for the child and money for expenses for therapy.

BIRTH INJURY

$3,990,000 settlement for a 3 year boy because the doctors and nurses gave too much IV fluid and caused the child to have seizures and hemorrhages in the brain.

This child had a normal delivery and normal APGAR scores when he was born. A few hours later the nurses detected he had low blood sugar. In order to correct this condition the doctors put him on Intravenous fluids with dextrose (sugar). Unfortunately, because his sugar level never stabilized, the residents kept increase the flow rate of the IV to get more dextrose into him. They should have just increased the concentration of dextrose in the IV rather than give it faster. This newborn was not able to handle so much fluid in his system and couldn’t urinate enough out to keep up with what they were putting in through the IV. As a result his blood became diluted with too much fluid and the sodium (salt) in his blood got diluted to a dangerously low level.

Warning signs that he was “waterlogged” and in a very dangerous position weren’t recognized, and this three day old child, without enough salt in his body to protect his organs, went into seizures and suffered bleeding in the brain causing permanent brain damage. The settlement was structured to provide funds to care for him as a child and provide him with a lifetime income as an adult.

A BRONX GRANDMOTHER AWARDED $110.6 MILLION IN A MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT

Keimoneia Redish with her attorney, Richard Gurfein, in her Bronx apartment. (Gregg Vigliotti/for New York Daily News

In an article reported by the New York Daily News By Cathy Burke Apr 13, 2019

In the lawsuit, the Grandmother sued St. Barnabas Hospital and the team of doctors who treated her during her 2010 asthma attack that triggered a massive brain injury. In a jury verdict in Bronx Supreme Court Keimoneia Redish, 48, decided in favor of the mother of five sons and one grandchild. Richard Gurfein of Gurfein Douglas argued doctors failed to consider transferring her to nearby facilities with ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) able to remove the build-up of carbon dioxide in her brain and could prevent injury to her brain and swelling caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide.”

After her stays of over 300 days in the hospital or nursing home. She now uses a wheelchair, with profound motor disabilities, and slurred speech. She has to be cared for full time by her partner and former chef. “She was an amazing mom, the vice president of the PTA,” Gurfein said. “She was the center of the family.” she deserves this 110.6 million is a vital award to help her maintain her care and compensate her for some of the tremendous sufferings she has endured. Read the full story with additional pictures in the New York Daily News.

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