Update: Dalbey v. Gokhale, M.D.

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District has affirmed the trial court’s decision in Dalbey v. Gokhale, M.D., a case tried in 2019 by Brian Burge and Jana Richards, which resulted in the 3rd largest defense verdict for that year. The case involved allegations against an ER physician concerning a purported failure to diagnose an aneurysm rupture in the plaintiff, which subsequently caused a brain hemorrhage. The plaintiff was required to undergo extensive surgery and was hospitalized in intensive care for several weeks. At trial, plaintiff claimed that he had suffered permanent partial paralysis, severe cognitive decline and lacked the ability engage in meaningful employment. Plaintiff asked the jury to award more than $9 million in damages. After a verdict in favor of the physician, Plaintiff alleged several evidentiary errors on appeal. Oral arguments were held on March 17th and the appellate court issued its decision less than three weeks later affirming the trial court’s decision in its entirety.

Dalbey v. Gokhale, M.D., et al.

As part of the continuing effort and commitment of SWRS to effectively serve its clients even during these trying times, a number of attorneys in the firm recently appeared before the appellate courts in both Kansas and Missouri to present oral arguments via a virtual platform. SWRS remains intent on pursuing all avenues to protect the client’s legal interests even where restrictions remain in place prohibiting in-person courtroom appearances. Brian Burge argued before the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District in Dalbey v. Gokhale, M.D., et al., an appeal taken by the plaintiff following judgment in favor of the defendant-physician by a jury sitting in Buchanan County, Missouri. The case involved allegations against an ER physician concerning a purported failure to diagnose an aneurysm rupture in the plaintiff, which subsequently caused a brain hemorrhage. The plaintiff was required to undergo extensive surgery and was hospitalized in intensive care for several weeks. At trial, plaintiff claimed that he had suffered permanent partial paralysis, severe cognitive decline and lacked the ability engage in meaningful employment. Plaintiff asked the jury to award more than $9 million in damages. After a two-week trial, the jury found in favor of the physician and awarded no damages to the plaintiff. Claims of evidentiary error by the trial court have been made on appeal by plaintiff. A decision from the appellate court is expected within 2-3 months.

Miltenberger v SEPM et al.

Brian Burge and Stacey Dowd recently assisted in the successful defense of an emergency room physician alleged to have negligently evaluated a patient later found to have Stage IV colon cancer.  A seven-day jury trial was held in St. Charles County, Missouri.  Plaintiffs were the widow and five adopted children of decedent, who passed away from cancer in September of 2017.  Plaintiffs asked the jury to award $8.5 million in damages based on the physician’s purported failure to properly examine and refer the patient after an incidental finding was noted on a CT study suggesting the possibility of a life-threatening condition.  Defendants included the ER physician and a medical staffing service.  Defendants argued at trial that the decedent had initially presented to the ER with a routine complaint (kidney stone), that he had no other concerning signs or symptoms suggestive of an underlying problem, that appropriate instructions were given to the decedent regarding follow-up on the incidental finding and that no reasonable physician would have suspected cancer at the time.  After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants and awarded no damages to the plaintiffs.  The case represents one of the first civil jury trials conducted in Missouri in the wake of the Covid pandemic.