Fritz v. Oberto, M.D. Orthopedic Negligence (Total Award: $264,000)Steven L. Brown represented Judie Fritz, a retired nurse, who had a permanent sciatic nerve injury caused by the negligence of Dr. Michael Oberto, an orthopedist, during the performance of a total left hip replacement surgery. She had what is called a “total foot drop,” as a result of the negligence. Despite dictating in his Operative Note that he found the self-retaining surgical retractor “impaling” the sciatic nerve during the course of the surgery, he maintained that the retractor migrated onto the nerve during the surgery. Mr. Brown was able to successfully convince the jury that Dr. Oberto placed the retractor on the sciatic nerve at the start of the surgery and it remained there for the duration of the surgery, compressing the sciatic nerve and permanently destroying 50% of the nerve. In essence, Ms. Fritz had no ability to dorsiflex or evert her left foot, which prevented her from walking. Dr. Peter Cassini likened it to trying to walk in a ski boot. Expert testimony established that she was at an increased risk of falling, which she had done several times prior to trial. She also could no longer drive and was limited in what she could do in her activities of daily living, given that she had a pre-existing palsy on the other side. Defendants hired a well-known orthopedist who on cross-examination did not agree with defendant’s theory of how the damage occurred. Plaintiffs used a Stanford orthopedic hip specialist and a Stanford neurologist in obtaining this favorable verdict.