RRD Partner Dan Ryan Wins Defense Verdict for Ophthalmologist

March 2, 2015

A jury recently found in favor of the firm’s client, a local ophthalmologist, in a medical malpractice case defended by Ryan Ryan Deluca partner Dan Ryan.  The case involved left eye cataract surgery performed on the plaintiff in September 2009.  The plaintiff, an internist/ gastroenterologist, was 74 years old and still practicing medicine at the time of the surgery. He had a family history of glaucoma, from which his mother had gone blind, which was under control through medication at the time of the cataract surgery. There was a factual dispute as to his complaints the summer preceding the cataract surgery: the plaintiff claimed no significant visual complaints, but the defendant ophthalmologist documented monocular double vision in the plaintiff's right eye with the formation of new cortical cataracts in both eyes. 

The cataract surgery was scheduled for both eyes, with the more visually compromised left eye being operated on first, and the right eye two weeks later. Immediately after the first surgery the plaintiff's glaucoma pressures increased, and in November 2009 a glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy) was required by a glaucoma specialist to lower the eye pressure.  That surgery required a revision in December 2009 and eventually a third glaucoma surgery.  The plaintiff eventually lost vision in the left eye due to complications from the three glaucoma procedures. The plaintiff claimed that the firm’s client did not obtain the patient's informed consent and did not advise him that the cataract surgery could cause complications to his glaucoma. 

The plaintiff's original theory appeared to be that the firm’s client should have performed a combined cataract and glaucoma surgery in September 2009 rather than simply doing a cataract surgery, but at trial the plaintiff argued that no surgery should have been performed, as the plaintiff's cataracts were not affecting his activities of daily living.  After a trial lasting more than two weeks, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the firm’s client in half an hour.