Medical Negligence - Already a paraplegic from a gunshot wound, plaintiff suffered a brain injury that left him in a vegetative state because of allegedly substandard anesthesia care

Figgers v. Bandyopadhyay, 99-0985

Plaintiff: Ralph E. Coleman, Coleman & Friday, Birmingham

Defense: Randal H. Sellers and M. Christopher Eagan, Starnes & Atchison, Birmingham

Verdict: Defense verdict

Circuit: Jefferson, 8-12-03

Judge: Houston L. Brown

In December of 1996, Frederick Figgers, age 32, suffered gun shot wounds. Struck six times, his injuries left him a paraplegic. For the next three months, while seriously hurt, Figgers was improving. On 2-20-97, a skin graft procedure was scheduled at Carraway Methodist. Providing anesthesia was Dr. Subhanker Bandyopadhyay (Bandy).

During the procedure, Figgers had a cardiac arrest. Related to the arrest, Figgers suffered a hypoxic event. While resuscitated, Figgers has since been left in a persistent vegetative state. Developing proof of his required life care plan was an expert, Kathy Smith, Birmingham. Importantly, while newly a paraplegic, Figgers’ proof developed that at the time of the surgery, his condition was improving.

In this lawsuit, brought by his mother, Figgers blamed his present condition on Bandy’s negligent administration and monitoring of his anesthesia. Particularly, he received too much, especially for someone who had just suffered a spinal injury; while appropriate for a normal patient, it was an excessive dose for him. Plaintiff’s experts, Dr. John Patton, Mancos, CO and Dr. Stanley Mogelnicki, Atlanta, both Anesthesia, further developed error in failing to do an appropriate pre-operative anesthesia assessment.

Figgers also implicated the hospital nurses for inadequately monitoring his oxygenation. As the litigation progressed, Carraway Methodist settled, paying Figgers $250,000. The matter proceeded to trial against Bandy.

He defended the case and called his care appropriate. Bandy blamed the bad result on an unfortunate complication, the doctor having performed a proper work-up, later complying with the standard of care in his monitoring of the anesthesia administration. Beyond the standard of care, Bandy also challenged on causation, suggesting the cardiac event was more likely related to a pulmonary embolism. Defense anesthesia experts were Dr. Lee Carter, Birmingham, Dr. Jeffrey Plagenhoff, Dothan and Dr. Michael Routman, Birmingham.

The case was tried over eight days in Birmingham, a jury considering if Bandy violated the reasonably competent anesthesiologist standard. The claim was rejected, Figgers taking nothing. A defense judgment followed.

Pending is Figgers motion for a new trial. It has argued juror misconduct. Namely, a juror secreted the fact that she had been previously cut as a sorority pledge by plaintiff’s sister. It was plaintiff’s position that had it known, this juror would have been struck. When reviewed by the AJVR, Bandy had not replied.

Just two weeks before trial, Bandy sought a continuance. He cited a lengthy article in the Birmingham News that recited the facts of a $14.5 million anesthesia verdict from Montgomery, returned on 6-24-03. See Timmons v. Ware, 3 AJVR 8 at page 4. The motion was denied by Brown and the matter proceeded to trial.