Surgeon Places Wrong Size Prosthesis During Shoulder Replacement Surgery in Luray. Jury Verdict: $922,854.56

Jury Award: $922,854.56

This Page County, Virginia case involved an osteopathic surgeon that operated on a man and caused him to lose most of the use of his right arm, impacting on his ability to work and to hunt. Dr. Dwight Kemp performed a total shoulder replacement surgery on our client, then 52 years old. Our client was a hydro-electric technician with a 30 year work history and was earning approximately $46,000 per year at the time of the surgery. The defendant, Dr. Dwight Kemp, released our client to work after four months with a 50 pound work restriction. Unfortunately, our client could not functionally use his right arm after surgery, despite a lot of physical therapy. Based on his continuing problems 14 months after his total replacement surgery, the client had the shoulder surgery revised by Dr. Neviaser, the chief of orthopaedics at George Washington University and a well-regarded shoulder expert. Dr. Neviaser testified at trial that the prosthetic device implanted by Dr. Kemp was placed too high or too proud, which violated the standard of care for a Virginia orthopaedic surgeon. Dr. Neviaser testified that the standard of care for the placement of a humeral head prosthesis is 5 to 10 mm above the greater tuberosity. In this case, the prosthesis was 25 mm (or 2.5 cm) above the greater tuberosity.

After his second surgery, the client could not return to his job at the hydroelectric plant and testified that he had planned on retiring at age 62. The parties stipulated that had the client worked until age 62, he would have earned another $385,624.

The defendant called two expert witnesses to testify that although the prosthesis was high, the joint was not “overstuffed” and the surgeon had used good medical judgment during his operation. There was no testimony from the defense on causation of the plaintiff’s right shoulder rotator cuff problems; even though the defendant surgeon’s operative report and findings showed that at the time of the initial shoulder surgery, Mr. Doe had healthy soft tissues. As there was no offer prior to trial, the case was presented to a jury in Page County Circuit Court.  After hearing all of the evidence in the case, the jury awarded our client $922,854.56 for his damages. Dr. Kemp petitioned the Supreme Court of Virginia for an appeal of the jury’s verdict. The Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict and Dr. Kemp (through his malpractice carrier) paid the judgment amount plus interest.

Gary Stein of Washington, DC and Barbara S. Williams (a medical malpractice attorney in Leesburg and Winchester, VA) represented the client against the doctor in this case.

Jury Award: $922,854.56

Please note that case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Past successful case results do not guarantee or predict future results.


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