$1 Million Medical Negligence Jury Verdict Where Median Nerve Was Severed During Carpal Tunnel Surgery

A Will County, Ill., jury entered a $1,066,000 verdict against an orthopedic surgeon, David Burt, M.D.  Virginia Faletti, 82, underwent endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery on her right wrist at Edward Hospital.  The surgery was done to relieve pressure on the median nerve because of crowding within the carpal tunnel of the wrist. 

Dr. Burt, however, cut the median nerve during the surgery.  After the procedure, Faletti felt pain and numbness in the right hand and wrist, but Dr. Burt chose not to recognize that he had cut the median nerve.  Instead, Dr. Burt prescribed medicine for the nerve pain as well as a brace and physical therapy, which did not resolve Faletti’s symptoms. 

Later, Faletti sought a second opinion and was eventually diagnosed with a transected median nerve by a neurosurgeon.  The neurosurgeon then referred her to a plastic reconstructive surgeon who performed nerve repair surgery. During this procedure, the doctor noted the right median nerve had been completely transected except for one nerve fiber. 

The reconstruction surgeon used cable grafts in an attempt to reconnect the severed nerve and performed a tendon transfer to allow opposition of the thumb, but the surgery was only partially successful.

Faletti continued to suffer from pain, numbness and loss of function in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger in her right hand.  The medical bills were more than $65,000.

Prior to the Dr. Burt’s surgery, Faletti, who was retired, was living an active life on her family farm.  Her permanent hand deficits had drastically limited her ability to take care of her husband, family and farm.  She asserted that Dr. Burt breached the standard of care for locating one of the two endoscopic incisions in the wrong place, resulting in the surgery taking place directly across the course of the median nerve.

She also argued that Dr. Burt chose not to identify the presence of the median nerve once he was in the surgical field before cutting it. 

The defendant maintained that he had properly placed both endoscopic incisions; he never saw the median nerve and under the standard of care, would not visualize the median nerve when releasing the carpal tunnel endoscopically.Dr. Burt also contended that a median nerve injury is a known complication and risk of the surgery.  The defendants’ expert admitted during cross-examination that the standard of care required Dr. Burt to pre-mark both endoscopic incisions on the patient’s hand/wrist before surgery to ensure that they were in the proper location.  In addition, Dr. Burt admitted at trial under cross-examination that he did not pre-mark both incisions. 

The jury deliberated for just one hour and 45 minutes.  The jury verdict was the highest Will County award for a hand injury to a plaintiff over the age of 60.

The attorneys for Virginia Faletti were Bradley N. Pollock and Adam C. Kruse. 

The demand to settle the case before trial was $1 million, which was the doctor’s insurance policy limits.  There was no offer to settle the case. 

The jury’s verdict of $1,066,000 that was entered against both Dr. Burt and his medical practice were made up of the following damages:

  • $66,000 for past medical expenses;
  • $100,000 for future medical expenses;
  • $300,000 for past pain and suffering;
  • $200,000 for future pain and suffering;
  • $200,000 for past loss of normal life; and
  • $200,000 for future loss of normal life.

Virginia Faletti v. Dr. David Burt, et al., No. 10 L 896 (Will County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling surgical negligence cases, hospital negligence cases and medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Olympia Fields, Orland Park, Northfield, Northlake, Niles, Dolton, Des Plaines, Crestwood, Chicago Ridge, Cicero, Joliet, Willow Springs, Worth, Roselle and Sauk Village, Ill.

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