News Brief

Shepperd Secures Unanimous Jury Verdict in Favor of Surgeon in OR Fire

December 7, 2016

John R. Shepperd (Partner-Houston) prevailed on behalf of a surgeon in a medical malpractice case before the First Judicial District Court of Jasper County, Texas. The plaintiff sued for burns to the left side of her face after the sterile drape covering her during surgery on her scalp caught fire; the fire was secondary to an oxygen leak from the patient’s mask and ignited by an electro-cautery device. The plaintiff’s expert testified that an operating room fire was prima facie evidence of negligence on the surgeon’s part and offered a long list of preventive measures. John presented an expert who testified to the rarity of operating room fires (1/100,000), the impracticality of telling the anesthesiologist to cut off the oxygen every time the electro-cautery device is used, and the fact that neither the surgeon nor his expert was trained about operating room fires during their respective residencies. The plaintiff demanded the doctor’s insurance policy limits, but the doctor would not consent to settle. At trial, the plaintiff claimed negligence and gross negligence and sought actual damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages. The jury decided unanimously that the doctor was not negligent. 

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