Jury awards $4.5M over misplaced pedicle screw during spine surgery: 5 things to know


On April 6, a Union County, N.J., jury awarded a plaintiff $4.5 million over a botched spine surgery. The plaintiff will recover $2.25 million because of a high-low agreement the lawyers entered after closing arguments, the New Jersey Law Journal reports.

Here are five things to know.

1. The medical malpractice suit Ayala v. Friedlander, M.D., claimed that a March 2011 lumbar fusion surgery performed by neurosurgeon Marvin Friedlander, MD, and orthopedic spine surgeon Douglas Bradley, MD, strayed from the accepted standards of care because a pedicle screw was placed in the wrong location.

2. The suit claimed Dr. Friedlander failed to diagnose and treat the mispositioned screw in a timely manner, leading the plaintiff to develop pain in his right leg, numbness in his right calf and weakness in his right toes.

3. Dr. Friedlander did not order a CT or MRI until January 2013, when the pedicle screw was found to be in the wrong location and a failed fusion was diagnosed, according to the suit. The plaintiff underwent revision surgery in May 2013.

4. The jury found the defendants liable and allocated 75 percent of the fault to Dr. Friedlander and 25 percent to Dr. Bradley. The plaintiff received $2.4 million for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, $2 million for lost income and approximately $123,000 for medical expenses.

5. A high-low agreement is a settlement in which a defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a minimum recovery in exchange for the plaintiff agreeing to accept a maximum amount regardless of the trial's outcome. Under the high-low agreement, Drs. Friedlander and Bradley will pay half of the $2.25 million.

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