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$1.45 Million Patient Positioning Award

16-year ordeal over for man who suffered permanent nerve damage during a 1996 orthopedic procedure.

Published: June 27, 2012

A jury has awarded $1.45 million to a man who suffered permanent nerve damage to his non-operative leg after anesthesiologists failed to move it from suspension during a 10-hour orthopedic procedure.

Mahmoud Diarassouba, a Manhattan Community College math professor, had surgery in June 1996 at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Following left knee surgery, court records show Mr. Diarassouba experienced pain, burning and numbness in his right calf and foot, which was diagnosed as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a chronic and permanent nerve condition.

He sued the surgeon and the 2 anesthesiologists who worked the case for failing to follow proper patient positioning protocols, and won a jury verdict for pain and suffering damages. The anesthesiologists appealed the decision, however, alleging errors were made in the presentation of evidence to the jury.

A New York appellate court agreed, and ordered a second trial. As the jury deliberated following the presentation of evidence, according to court documents, Mr. Diarassouba's attorney told the anesthesiologists' council that he would accept a settlement totaling $150,000. But before he could enter the agreement into the court's record, the judge read the jury's verdict that awarded his client nearly 10 times the settlement amount.

Mr. Diarassouba's attorney immediately claimed the settlement was invalid because it was never confirmed by the defense in open court and the settlement's terms were never put on the record. The defense appealed, but an appellate court agreed that the settlement was invalid and let the jury's verdict stand.

The anesthesiologists' legal team appealed yet again, this time claiming the verdict lacked clinical evidence and arguing the award granted to Mr. Diarassouba was excessive.

Finally, last May, the New York State Supreme Court upheld the verdict and the jury's original award for pain and suffering, closing the door on a long legal battle over a lengthy surgery.

Attorneys for both sides did not respond to requests for comment.

Daniel Cook


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