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Defendants Cast Blame After CT Woman Awarded $12M in Malpractice Case

The hospital and a surgical resident blame the primary surgeon, who has already settled claims against him.

By Mitchell J. Birzon

Danbury, CT - 65-year-old Vivian Gagliano of Redding, Connecticut, was awarded $12 million on May 30 by a jury in a medical malpractice case. A doctor had punctured her colon during a routine hernia operation, in which she lost most of her large intestine as a result of the negligence.

The jury ordered Danbury Hospital in Connecticut to pay the amount to her for the botched surgery, which sent her into a month-long coma. The surgery, which took place in 2008, led to a massive abdominal infection as well as multiple other surgeries.

The award was handed down last Friday by jurors in Danbury Superior Court in Connecticut after about 3 hours of deliberations.

After the surgery, Gagliano's surgical wound was closed, but the doctors never realized that her colon was punctured at that time. It was after the surgery when the doctors realized that her colon was punctured when she developed a massive abdominal infection.

According to her attorney, medical malpractice lawyer Joshua Koskoff, Gagliano went into septic shock. She even had a heart attack and her organs began failing before she was sent into a month-long coma. Today, she continues to have abdominal problems which hinder her movement and she still cannot properly digest food.

Defendants blame each other

Andrea Rynn, the spokeswoman for Danbury Hospital, stated that the hospital officials are considering an appeal as they disagree with the verdict. "This verdict is an unfortunate example of the litigious environment in health care that hinders progressive reform and affects our ability to reduce health care costs for those we serve," she said in the statement.

After her operation, Gagliano sued the hospital and two doctors, Venkata Bodavula and Joseph Gordon in 2010. Medical malpractice lawyer Joshua Koskoff said that Dr. Bodavula was the one at fault and who perforated her colon. At that time, he was a surgical resident. According to Koskoff, Gagliano was not aware that a surgical resident would be taking part in the operation.

During the trial Bodavula denied Koskoff's allegations and said that Dr. Gordon was responsible for the surgical mistake. Moreover, the hospital lawyers are arguing that the hospital cannot be held responsible for the acts of a surgical resident and that instead, Dr. Gordon should be held responsible.

According to Dr. Bodavula, he was not the one who punctured her colon and he helped Dr. Gordon begin a procedure on Gagliano. He is now a hand surgeon in St. Peters, Missouri, near St. Louis. According to court records, Dr. Gordon settled all claims against him before the start of the trial. The terms of settlement were not immediately available.

Mitchell J. Birzon is the founding partner of The Birzon Law Group in Smithtown, New York. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the New England School of Law. He practices in discipline against health care professionals, personal injury, healthcare law and medical practice mergers & acquisitions.

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