"When there are multiple defendants at trial, defendants typically present a unified defense," writes Acacia Brush Perko, Esq.
A 52-year-old male patient presented to his urologist with complaints of flank pain and blood in his urine. The urologist referred the patient to the defendant radiologist for an intravenous x-ray test to reveal the cause. The radiologist performed the test and reported findings consistent with a kidney stone. The urologist then treated the patient for a kidney stone.
On a follow-up visit, the patient reported that the symptoms had resolved. Fourteen months later, he received a diagnosis of metastatic renal cell carcinoma and ultimately died as a result of the disease.
The patient’s estate filed a lawsuit and claimed the failure of his medical providers to timely diagnose his condition contributed to his death.
The matter proceeded to trial. At trial, the plaintiff’s experts testified that the defendants were negligent in failing to timely diagnose the disease. The plaintiff’s expert radiologist testified that the defendant radiologist failed to report findings suggestive of the disease. The plaintiff’s expert urologist testified the defendant urologist breached his duty to the patient in failing to personally review the radiologist’s tests or order follow-up tests to ensure the accuracy of the initial findings.
The radiologist and urologist both denied any wrongdoing and argued that the man’s death was imminent by the time he presented for their care. Specifically, the defendants’ experts all testified that the defendants met the standard of care. The defendants’ experts further testified that the decedent’s symptoms and test results were consistent with the diagnosis of kidney stones and that the resolution of his symptoms supported their findings. The defendants additionally argued that the disease had most likely metastasized throughout the patient prior to his initial presentation and, regardless of their findings, his death was imminent.
Following a 4-hour deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict, finding the defendants met the standard of care.
Legal perspective: When there are multiple defendants at trial, defendants typically present a unified defense. That strategy worked well in this case, in which the jury heard from defense experts who consistently testified in support of the defendant radiologist and urologist— ultimately resulting in a defense verdict.