News & Events

Ralph Vincent Morales Secures Defense Verdict

By | VBPNP In the News

Ralph Vincent Morales secured a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of a local hospital on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 following a two week jury trial in Suffolk County before the Hon. Joseph A. Santorelli. The matter involved allegations that the hospital staff failed to consider a musculoskeletal origin for the chest pain with which the then-52-year-old female plaintiff presented to the emergency department on August 10, 2019 and that the hospital staff also departed from the standard of care by ordering a cardiac catheterization after a coronary CT angiogram showed evidence of multi-vessel blockages. The cardiac catheterization was performed at a separate facility and found no evidence of atherosclerosis.

Plaintiff produced evidence that the hospital knew that plaintiff underwent a previous coronary CT angiogram six months earlier that showed no evidence of coronary artery blockages and therefore should not have performed another coronary CT angiogram; rather, the hospital should have worked up plaintiff for musculoskeletal pain. Plaintiff also claimed that the cardiac catheterization resulted in a frozen right shoulder and diminished use of the right arm and hand. Mr. Morales successfully argued that coronary artery disease outweighed musculoskeletal pain and that an additional coronary CT angiogram was warranted because the plaintiff presented to the hospital with a history of three days of intermittent chest pain and with five risk factors for coronary artery disease. Once the diagnostic study showed evidence of coronary artery disease, a cardiac catheterization, which is the gold standard for diagnosing coronary artery disease, was indicated. Mr. Morales also successfully argued that the plaintiff had previously existing degenerative changes in her right shoulder that caused the frozen shoulder and right arm deficits.

Seema Palmerson, John W. Barker and Gemma Kenny Secure Summary Judgment

By | VBPNP In the News

On July 11, 2022, Seema Palmerson, John W. Barker, and Gemma Kenney secured summary judgment in favor of their hospital client in Supreme Court, New York County.  Plaintiff alleged dental malpractice regarding the care and treatment surrounding the plaintiff’s ORIF of a right parasymphysis and closed reduction of a left subcondylar fracture by co-defendant practitioner and the hospital client.  The VBPNP team argued that there were no viable claims against the hospital.  The VBPNP team established that defendants did not deviate from accepted practice, that their actions or inactions were not a proximate cause of plaintiff’s alleged injuries, and that plaintiff’s lack of informed consent claim failed, in part, because plaintiff’s expert failed to state that a reasonably prudent person would not have undergone the procedure.

The Court agreed finding that the record was devoid of any evidence to substantiate plaintiff’s theories of liability.  As a result, Justice Erika Edwards concluded that the hospital client was entitled to dismissal of all claims.

Arthur Yankowitz and Daniel O’Connell Secure a Directed Verdict

By | VBPNP In the News

On May 11, 2022, in Supreme Court, Queens County, Arthur Yankowitz with the assistance of Daniel O’Connell secured a Directed Verdict at the close of plaintiff’s case on behalf of an Emergency Services Group and a physician.  Plaintiff’s counsel alleged a failure to timely diagnose and treat a  pneumothorax during an Emergency Room presentation which resulted in a more complicated and invasive surgical repair (a 6 day hospitalization) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Plaintiff’s pulmonary expert and psychiatric expert could not causally relate plaintiff’s claimed injuries to the alleged failure to timely diagnose the pneumothorax approximately thirty one hours sooner. In addition, the experts were effectively cross-examined regarding plaintiff’s prior MVA case where plaintiff made similar psychological claims.


Joseph Muscarella Secures Defense Verdict

By | VBPNP In the News

On May 5, 2022, Joseph Muscarella secured a defense verdict on behalf of our client, a Car Dealership/Auto Repair Shop, in Rockland County Supreme Court before the Honorable Thomas Zugibe. Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the client’s mechanics negligently repaired the plaintiff’s vehicle, resulting in the plaintiff’s automobile accident on a major highway. At trial, plaintiff called two experts who both alleged that the client negligently repaired a power steering gearbox in the plaintiff’s vehicle, resulting in the plaintiff’s complete loss of steering, and causing the plaintiff’s accident. While Mr. Muscarella did not call an expert, he was able to establish through cross-examination of plaintiff’s experts that there was no evidence that the repair of the steering gear box on the plaintiff’s vehicle was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s accident.

Anna Hock 2nd Summary Judgment Win

By | VBPNP In the News

On April 12, 2022, Anna Hock secured summary judgment in the Supreme Court, Kings County, in a rather unique case involving a missing embryo. The client, a fertility clinic, received a frozen embryo from another facility in preparation for insemination. In preparation for the procedure, the embryologist had to thaw the vial that contained the embryo pursuant to a specific protocol. Following the thaw, the embryo was never retrieved. Plaintiff attempted to argue that the embryologist negligently thawed the embryo as it had been visualized at the time of the freeze. Ms. Hock successfully argued, with the assistance of an expert embryologist, that embryo loss can occur in the absence of negligence and unfortunately, there is no guarantee of retrieval of a frozen embryo. It was further argued that this was a “failure to retrieve,” the time between the freeze and thaw process, and that it was impossible to determine when the embryo was damaged and disintegrated. In turn, Plaintiff was unable to establish that the embryo loss was as a direct result of the embryologist’s negligence or proximately caused by her actions. Therefore, Judge Spodek concluded that the fertility clinic was not liable for the embryo loss.

The following day, on April 13, 2022, Anna Hock argued an appeal of an ex parte Order to Show Cause that was signed by Judge Ruchelsman. In this matter, Ms. Hock was seeking the appointment of a Special Guardian, among other relief, over a patient in the emergency room at the hospital client. The patient, despite having been deemed to have capacity, refused to participate in safe discharge planning and could not provide an alternative plan to meet his complex needs. A Special Guardian was required to assist with the limited powers related to safe discharge planning over the patient’s objection. The attorneys for the patient argued that a Special Guardian could not be appointed in the absence of a finding of capacity and that at a minimum, there had to be a hearing. Ms. Hock successfully argued that a Special Guardian could be appointed without a finding of incapacity and the Appellate Court declined to vacate the order.

Jeffrey Nichols and Angela Bonica Secure Defense Verdict

By | VBPNP In the News

On April 6, 2022, Jeffrey Nichols and Angela Bonica secured a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of an Emergency Medicine physician in Suffolk County Supreme Court before the Honorable Thomas F. Whelan.  Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the physician negligently prescribed Haldol to address agitation in the geriatric patient which their expert alleged was used off label in an excessive dose and was contraindicated under the circumstances. As a result, plaintiff’s expert alleged that the patient suffered a downward spiral and passed away the following month. Jeff and Angela established the reasonableness of our client’s judgment under the circumstances and refuted the claim that the patient’s death was caused by the drug.  The jury returned with a unanimous defense verdict after thirty minutes of deliberations.

Gregg Weinstock and Thomas Brennan Secure Summary Judgment

By | VBPNP In the News

On March 25, 2022, the team of Thomas Brennan and Gregg Weinstock, secured summary judgment in favor of their hospital client in Supreme Court, New York County. Plaintiff alleged that she was caused to sustain serious personal injuries as a result of a fall that took place outside the cafeteria located on the premises, due to spilled liquid. The VBPNP team argued that the evidence was clear that our client did not create the alleged defect/dangerous condition in the hall, nor did it have notice of the condition.  The team was successful in arguing that despite having no independent recollection of the day, the hospital witness testified that he had followed his normal cleaning routine on the day in question, establishing the lack of constructive or actual notice of the condition.   As a result, Justice Paul A. Goetz concluded that the hospital client could not be liable for plaintiff’s injuries and dismissed the complaint.  The Court’s dismissal averted the need for the client to continue with litigation and prevented a costly trial from taking place.


VBPNP Team Secures Summary Judgment

By | VBPNP In the News

On March 22, 2022, Dawn Bristol and Andres Sanchez secured summary judgment in favor of a Brooklyn based physician and his practice in Supreme Court, Kings County.

Plaintiff argued that our client was liable for the negligent off-site administration of Radiesse dermal filler injections administered by a co-defendant nurse. The subject procedure was performed inside of the co-defendant’s private residence. Shortly after, plaintiff experienced an adverse reaction to the dermal filler and was diagnosed at an outside hospital with facial cellulitis. Injuries claimed included ischemia, necrosis, permanent scarring of the face and nerve damages. Plaintiff’s main contention was that our client was involved in a joint enterprise in the co-defendant’s off-site aesthetic practice.

However, at plaintiff’s deposition it was established that plaintiff never treated or consulted with our client for the procedure. Rather all treatment and payment for services was transacted directly with co-defendant. Accordingly, Mr. Sanchez argued that our client was entitled to summary judgment because no physician-patient relationship existed giving rise to any duty to plaintiff, inasmuch as our client did not examine or treat plaintiff, nor did he provide the dermal filler to the co-defendant nurse for the off-site procedure. The Court agreed, finding that the record was devoid of any evidence to substantiate plaintiff’s theories of liability.


Gary W. Patterson, Jr. Secures Directed Verdict In New York County Supreme Court

By | VBPNP In the News

On March 21, 2022, the Honorable Lyle Frank of the Supreme Court, New York County, granted Mr. Patterson’s motion for a directed verdict on behalf of his client, a well-regarded plastic surgeon. The 34 year old male plaintiff claimed the doctor negligently performed a circumferential body lift procedure, leading to sexual dysfunction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Plaintiff called experts in plastic surgery, urology and psychiatry. 

Plaintiff’s plastic surgery expert was also a subsequent treating physician.  On direct examination, the expert testified that the standard of care required a bridge of tissue of at least 6 cm. be maintained between the incision and genitalia.  The doctor claimed that defendant negligently placed the incision at the base of the penis.  

During Mr. Patterson’s cross examination, the witness recanted his testimony and acknowledged that there was no “line in the sand.”  Rather, the decision on where to place the incision was a matter of medical judgment. Mr. Patterson also discredited the expert’s recollection as to the location of the incision/scar.  The expert was presented with a contemporaneous photo demonstrating that the scar was indeed several centimeters above the base of the penis. 

At the close of plaintiff’s case, after seven days of testimony, Mr. Patterson moved for a directed verdict arguing that plaintiff had failed to raise a triable issue of fact given the plastic surgery expert’s concessions on cross-examination.  He also pointed to intra-operative photos which directly contradicted the expert’s testimony. After hearing oral arguments, Judge Frank granted the motion, finding that the expert’s testimony was insufficient to meet the plaintiff’s burden as a matter of law.