Wallingford Man Awarded $4.25 million in Medical Malpractice Suit Against MidState Doctor

The Record Journal Reports— A Wallingford man was awarded $4.25 million by a jury in New Haven court Wednesday as compensation for surgery at MidState Medical Center that left him with permanent nerve damage. It was later determined the surgery was performed unnecessarily.

In December 2008, Gregory Leigh, 58, of Wallingford, sought treatment at MidState Medical Center for a mass in his neck. On Dec. 10, 2008, he suffered permanent nerve damage during a surgical procedure to remove the mass, according to a lawsuit Leigh filed suit in March 2011. He suffers permanent left shoulder pain due to damage to his spinal accessory nerve. He has not been able to work or use the left arm for any physical activity, the lawsuit states. Leigh was employed as a laborer PermaTreat Corporation in Durham at the time of the surgery.

The lawsuit was filed against Daniel Schwartz, the doctor who performed the procedure, and MidState Medical Group, P.C. The hospital is owned by Hartford Healthcare. Schwartz and his attorney, Jonathan Kocienda, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. Hartford Healthcare Director of Media Relations Rebecca Stewart said the group is “committed to patient safety.” “It is at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “We are focused on the important work of improving patient safety and quality within our network and across the country.”

After over four years of litigation, a six-person jury — three men and three women — awarded Leigh $4.25 million on Wednesday. According to court documents, the jury awarded Leigh $500,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. He will also receive $1.625 million for future pain and suffering and $1.625 million for future loss of enjoyment of life’s activities. Judge Robin Wilson presided over the trial, which took nearly three weeks. Leigh was under the care of Schwartz from Dec. 4, 2008 until Feb. 24, 2009, the lawsuit states. Schwartz and other caregivers at the hospital failed to treat, diagnose, monitor and supervise Leigh for the mass on the left side of his neck, according to the lawsuit. It was later determined the mass was caused by Cat Scratch Disease, a bacterial infection that can result in the inflammation of the lymph glands. The infection could have been treated by antibiotics.

“During the surgery to remove the lymph node, doctors caused permanent injury to (Leigh’s) shoulder. He now has nerve palsy, disfigurement of his arm and shoulder, cannot extend his left arm or raise it over his head, has permanent numbness and pain, and can no longer work at his job without considerable difficulty,” McElligott said. “It is clear that far too often, surgeons jump to perform surgery without properly considering less invasive options.