On March 7, 2019, Gary W. Patterson, Jr. obtained a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of his client, a pediatrician, at the Supreme Court, Westchester County, before the Honorable Charles Wood. The case concerned allegations of a failure to properly perform eye exams during the first year of life, leading to a delay in diagnosing a congenital cataract and blindness in the right eye. The infant plaintiff is now five years old.
Plaintiffs claimed that the cataract was present from birth and should have been detected on routine red reflex tests. Plaintiffs called a pediatric expert, who opined that any reasonable eye exam would have detected the abnormality from birth. The expert also relied upon photos of the infant demonstrating, strabismus (crossing of the eyes) to support the claim that referral to a pediatric ophthalmologist was indicated. On cross examination, Mr. Patterson established that the infant was actually born with a lenticular abnormality, a posterior lenticonus, which is exceedingly difficult to detect on a routine pediatric eye exam. The expert was further forced to acknowledge that strabismus is a normal variant in infants up to six months of age.
The infant’s mother testified that she repeatedly expressed concerns that her daughter’s eye was wandering, excessively blinking and sensitive to light. On cross examination, Mr. Patterson demonstrated that the plaintiff’s recollection of her interaction with the defendant was exceedingly poor and inconsistent, calling into question her reliability as a witness.
The plaintiffs also called the infant’s treating pediatric ophthalmologist, who performed the cataract extraction surgery and continues to follow the child. The doctor opined that the photographic evidence demonstrated that the cataract existed months earlier and surgical intervention at that time would have led to a better visual prognosis. On cross, Mr. Patterson effectively discredited the doctor in forcing him to concede to seven departures from accepted practice of his own. He further established that the mother was non-compliant with critical post-operative measures, and that the ophthalmologist’s own sub-standard care contributed to the poor outcome.
After plaintiff rested, Mr. Patterson produced experts in pediatrics and pediatric ophthalmology. The pediatric expert testified that the defendant’s eye exam was in accordance with the standard of care, while the ophthalmologist addressed causation, opining that there was no evidence to establish when the cataract formed.
In summation, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $7.5 million in damages. In short order, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Mr. Patterson’s client. In the past six months, Mr. Patterson has secured two defense verdicts and a directed verdict on behalf of his clients.