Court upholds $2.8M verdict in botched spine case


A woman who won a $2.8 million verdict in a case against a spine surgeon will be able to keep the money, according to an Oct. 31 opinion from the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Duane Pitt, MD, performed a spinal fusion on Jill Dillon's neck and caused her esophagus to tear during surgery, court documents said. Dr. Pitt ended the surgery, reached out to an ENT surgeon and repaired the tear. Ms. Dillon sued Dr. Pitt and his practice.

A jury trial ruled in favor of Ms. Dillon in 2022, but Dr. Pitt asked for either remittitur or a new trial because he argued "the verdict was excessive and unsupported by the evidence." Both requests were denied.

The appeals court said trial evidence "permitted a reasonable jury to conclude that [Dr.] Pitt's conduct fell below the reasonable standard of care" when he operated on Ms. Dillon. The court also argued that although Ms. Dillon's attorney suggested a $1.5 million verdict, the final verdict was "within the range of possible damages mentioned by [the attorney]."

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