Last Friday a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Utah returned a defense verdict in a case alleging medical malpractice against a Logan orthopedic surgeon in the implantation of a knee replacement. The claims was that the implantation was improper, with the femoral component being deviated 8 degrees medially. This required a later surgery by a University Hospital physician. There is some degree of permanent damage.
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Bob Sykes and Alyson Carter
Defense Counsel: David H. Epperson and David C. Epperson (insurance carrier was MedPro)
Judge: The Honorable Robert Shelby
Case: Jeppson v. Brad Larson, M.D.
Plaintiff’s counsel informs me that they were hampered by the unavailability of the subsequent treating physician, who is now serving an LDS mission in the Philippines. He did testify by video deposition, but was unavailable to later answer certain questions that came up in the trial.
Plaintiff’s counsel put up $800,000 in economic damages, and asked the jury for an additional $750,000 in non-economic damages. This was a “no-offer” case, as apparently the defendant physician would not consent to settlement. (It’s also the second Med-Pro “no offer” defense verdict in Utah this year.)
I am told that Judge Shelby entered an order prohibiting any arguments in the “Reptile” fashion; that is, references to community safety standards.
As I have said many times, it is very difficult to win a medical malpractice jury trial in Utah against an individual physician (as opposed to a hospital or other institution) unless there is something “more” than “mere” negligence. About 90% of such cases turn out to be defense verdicts. The odds of winning in arbitration are much better for the plaintiff.