Medical Malpractice

Compassionate, attentive legal representation when it’s needed most.

Portland Injury Attorney

Yuckert v. Dordevich

Medical Malpractive
Client: Toni Yuckert | Case: Defective Drug/Medical Malpractice

The settlement helped the Yuckerts make changes in their home and lives to accommodate Toni's disability.

As people age prescription drugs often play a vital role in helping them maintain optimum health. Toni Yuckert, relied on Vioxx to alleviate arthritis pain and counted on the medication to allow her to enjoy life to the fullest. Like many others, Yuckert trusted her physician to ensure that her prescription was suited for her. Unfortunately, her doctor made a critical mistake and took away much of Yuckert’s freedom.

A devoted mother and grandmother, Yuckert was an administrative assistant for the Parkrose School District in northeast Portland. After returning from a vacation to China with her husband Mike, Yuckert suffered a serious stroke. The stroke left her partially paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak more than a few words.
At the time, Yuckert was taking 100mg of Vioxx per day at the recommendation of her doctor. However, the maximum recommended dosage of Vioxx was only 25mg a day. Rare exceptions allowed up to 50mg a day. We now know that Vioxx was a major contributor to heart attacks and strokes for many unsuspecting Americans. Although Merck – the manufacturer of Vioxx – was able to conceal these risks for many years, Vioxx was eventually pulled from the market.

Another attorney referred Mike Yuckert to Lawrence Baron. When the Yuckerts first approached Baron, they were focused on holding Merck accountable. Vioxx had recently been recalled and it was obvious that the medication contributed to Toni’s stroke. However, as Baron studied Mrs. Yuckert’s medical records, her physician’s level of carelessness also became obvious. In addition to arthritis, she suffered from high blood pressure. In fact, that was what made Vioxx so dangerous for her.
Vioxx actually contributes to high blood pressure. Although her physician, Dr. Dejan Dordevich, prescribed blood pressure medication, it was countermanded by the abnormally high level of Vioxx he prescribed. Dr. Dordevich also failed to monitor Yuckert’s blood pressure appropriately. Rarely did he even take her blood pressure – a standard practice when caring for patients with high blood pressure. On the few occasions when Yuckert’s blood pressure readings were taken, they were dangerously elevated and no effort was made to address the problem. Baron and the Yuckerts decided to file a claim against Dr. Dordevich.

Through legal negotiations, Baron helped the Yuckerts reach a settlement with Dr. Dordevich. Mike Yuckert appreciated Baron’s dedication to the case and his determination. “I was really impressed with the amount of research Lawrence and his staff put into the Vioxx issue,” Mike says. “They were great and always kept us informed. I can’t say enough good things about Lawrence. While Toni can't express herself completely, she has made it clear to me she is thankful to Lawrence and his staff. ”

The settlement helped the Yuckerts make changes in their home and lives to accommodate Toni’s disability.

Dilio v. Jang

Lasik Surgery
Client: Lori Ann Dilio |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Lasik Surgery

Lori Dilio was attracted to Lasik surgery because it presented an opportunity to get rid of her glasses. She enjoyed physical activities — skiing and swimming — where glasses were an inconvenience. Advertising by a Canadian Lasik clinic convinced her the surgery would be a positive move. She went to a clinic near her Bellevue, Washington, home for her pre-surgery exam. Doctors there declared her an excellent candidate.

Dilio traveled to Surrey, British Columbia, for her operation and surgery was performed on February 11, 2000. She immediately realized she had decreased vision and could not focus her eyes. "I couldn't really see," she says. "I had double vision. I saw halos and starbursts around light. And everything was dimmer. It was blurry."

Fearing for her future, Dilio sought legal counsel. "I didn't want to look back someday and think there was something else I could have done," she says. "I wanted to hold the doctors accountable. I wanted to say to the doctors, 'This is what you've done to me. This is what your lousy follow-up has come to.'"

Dilio hired Baron and Greg Zeuthen. "They were tenacious," Dilio says of her attorneys. "They were unstoppable in their research — they wanted to learn everything about my situation, about my condition. There was no stone left unturned. Every idea was pursued. They looked everywhere for answers."

The evidence gathered by Baron demonstrated clearly the mistakes made by Dilio's doctors. There were many: mismeasured pupils, a decentered flap, decentered ablations and a failure to remove straie (or wrinkles).The trial began in November 2002 at the Justice Center in Kent, Washington. Arguments had proceeded for two weeks and Baron had nearly completed his presentation of the Dilio case when the case settled.  Dilio left the courtroom with a lasting appreciation for the work put in by her attorneys, "My husband and I were both impressed with the time Lawrence and Greg invested in our case. They work hard for every penny they make."

Reaching a settlement gave Dilio the closure she needed to move on with her life. Prior to the operation, she successfully operated a small wedding cake business out of her home. Today, she and her husband Michael operate real estate appraisal business from their home. She also home schools her three children.

Smith v. Kaiser

Medical Malpractice
Client: Jim Smith |  Case: Medical Malpractice| Carpal Tunnel Injuries

During Smith’s carpel tunnel surgery, the surgeon erred by making an incision in the wrong place.  The blue line shows where the incision was made.  The red line shows where the incision should have been made and where a repair surgery was performed.

During the last two decades, carpal tunnel injuries have risen dramatically among workers who perform repetitive motions with their hands, such as typing. When provided with proper treatment, which sometimes involves delicate surgical operations, people affected by carpal tunnel issues can resume their normal work and life activities. However, improperly diagnosed conditions and botched medical procedures happen far too often.

Jim Smith (name changed at client’s request) works for a  law enforcement agency in Portland. His job requires him to use his hands a great deal. In late 2006, Smith decided to seek treatment for pain that he was feeling in his hand. “I realized that I was having carpal tunnel problems, and that I needed to see a doctor,” the man recalls.

Smith consulted Kaiser Permanente. A surgeon recommended a left median nerve release at the carpal tunnel. During the surgery, the surgeon cut and severed the left flexor pollicis longus or FPL tendon, which is not supposed to be cut as part of the procedure. Following his surgery, Smith experienced pain and was unable to flex his left thumb. “Right away, I knew that something was seriously wrong,” he says.
About one month after his surgery, Smith went to see another Kaiser surgeon, for a second opinion. The new surgeon diagnosed a likely rupture of the FPL tendon and performed exploratory surgery, which confirmed his diagnosis. The second surgeon went on to repair the ruptured FPL tendon. Although his FPL tendon was repaired, Smith continued to suffer pain and usage limitations. He later underwent occupational therapy to learn how to live with his damaged left hand.

Due to ongoing discomfort and the belief that the Kaiser surgeon had been negligent in his initial treatment of him, Smith decided to consult an attorney. His wife learned of Lawrence Baron and gave him a call. Baron helped Smith file a claim against Kaiser for medical negligence and breach of duty. The claim eventually resolved with a settlement agreeable to both sides.

Thanks to the settlement negotiated by Baron, Smith obtained compensation for the permanent damage to his hand. He was also able to pay his medical bills. He’s gratified he held Kaiser accountable for the error and interruption the error caused to  his career and personal life.

Smith enjoyed working with Baron’s office and recommends him to others. “Lawrence and his staff were just great,” he says. “They showed interest in me and were always there when I needed them.”

Although he still experiences pain, Smith has been able to resume a normal routine. “Overall, things are good. I’m still undergoing some issues with my hand, but thankfully it’s really never going to get any worse,” he reports.

Bollinger v. Brooksby

Glaucoma
Client: Jessie Bollinger |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Glaucoma

"The money from the settlement has helped me to be comfortable and deal with my medical bills"

After working many years as a secretary at Tektronix in Beaverton, Jessie Bollinger was enjoying her retirement. She visited with her family and participated in the many daily activities offered at her Tigard retirement home. However, that all changed one day in 2005 when she realized that something was seriously wrong with her vision.

Bollinger had been under the care of Portland ophthalmologist Dr. Gerald Brooksby. He prescribed her daily glaucoma medication and examined her eyes every six months. Dr. Brooksby would tell her everything was fine. But it wasn’t. Bollinger was slowly and permanently going blind. When she went to see a new ophthalmologist, the new doctor discovered permanent damage to the optic nerve and ordered a Visual Field exam, which provided evidence of a serious loss of vision. As a result, Bollinger was ordered immediately to a specialist and eventually underwent three surgeries to save what little vision she had left.

Glaucoma is known as the “silent disease.” When it is not controlled, it ever so slowly steals a person’s vision. By the time patients realize their vision is impaired, most of their vision is gone. Unfortunately, medication by itself – the treatment given to Jessie Bollinger – is no guarantee that glaucoma is under control. To be sure it is under control, an examination of the back of the eye is also required. Using a “slit lamp,” an eye doctor is supposed to check the optic nerve to make sure there is no damage to it. In addition, the eye doctor should give a yearly Visual Field exam, which is a test to determine if the patient is losing his or her field of vision. In Bollinger’s case, her physician completely failed to give a Visual Field exam; moreover, his examinations missed ongoing damage to the optic nerve.

Bollinger was referred to Lawrence Baron by another attorney. Working on behalf of Bollinger, Baron filed a medical malpractice claim against Brooksby for his negligence. The case settled when Baron got the eye doctor to admit that he knew patients should have visual field examinations during their yearly appointments. Brooksby could offer no reasonable explanation for his failure to do so for Bollinger.

Bollinger is grateful for the caring, personal assistance provided by Baron. “I know there are other good lawyers in town but Lawrence is the best,” Bollinger states. “I can’t say enough about Lawrence and his staff. They always treated me with respect and were concerned with how I was doing.” Bollinger no longer drives and she was impressed that Baron sent a car for her when they needed to meet in his office.

Today, Bollinger remains in good spirits despite battling a number of serious health problems. “The money from the settlement has helped me to be comfortable and deal with my medical bills,” Bollinger reports.

Ross v. Teplick

Lasik Surgery
Client: Brenda Ross  |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Lasik surgery

"Lawrence and Greg never left me out of the loop. I was in communication with them just about every day. They answered every one of my emails."

Brenda Ross sought out Lasik surgery so she wouldn't have to wear contacts anymore. She enjoyed swimming and water sports with her family. Without contact lenses in her eyes, she felt she could be more physically active with her family and enjoy life more.  Unfortunately, Ross's surgery went tragically wrong. A medical device was not properly assembled and it cut deeply into her eye. She suffered permanent damage and distortion of vision. To make matters worse, she learned that she never was a good candidate for surgery in the first place and her physician failed to tell her.

Following her surgery, she began to look for a lawyer to hold her doctor accountable. She and her husband settled on Lawrence Baron and Greg Zeuthen because of the compassion they demonstrated for her situation. Ross was also impressed that Baron had gone to the legislature to change a law so Anne Kirkwood could have her case move forward. "That told me a lot," said Ross. "That showed me Lawrence was the kind of attorney who would do everything possible for a client."

From the start, she knew she had chosen correctly. "Lawrence and Greg never left me out of the loop. I was in communication with them just about every day. They answered every one of my emails. The way they treated me throughout the process was awesome." Her case settled out of court in April 2002 in a confidential agreement. Her bond with her attorneys, though, has not lessened. "I feel that I made two new friends for life. We still communicate with Lawrence and Greg by email and phone on a semi-regular basis. I think the world of them."

Ross is a home school teacher to her four children, ages 2 to 14. Her impaired eyesight makes teaching her children extremely difficult but she finds a way to cope each day. Her oldest daughter recently enrolled in college level courses.

Aside from her family, Ross is extremely involved in support efforts for victims of Lasik and laser eye surgery. She started a group for Oregon and Washington called simply, "Refractive Surgery Complications Support Group." She also participates regularly in a national web site for former Lasik patients, "surgica leyes.org." When she comes across someone who needs legal help, she never hesitates to refer them to Lawrence Baron and Greg Zeuthen.

 

Morin v. Weston

Lasik Surgery
Client: Leo Morin  |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Lasik Surgery

In artificial light, Leo Morin says he sees about 40 percent of what he could see prior to his surgery.

Leo Morin, of Veneta, Oregon, wanted lighter glasses — glasses that weighed less.  His prescription made his lenses big and heavy. Because he worked as an industrial electrician, his eye glasses doubled as safety glasses. They had to be actually made out of glass and not a lighter plastic material.

Lasik surgery seemed to be the answer. He had surgery on both eyes on June 15, 2000. In the days following surgery, he began to realize something wasn't right. His left eye, in particular, was worse. At eye exams, when he was asked to look at the eye chart on the wall, he couldn't make out any letters, even the big "E" at the top.
He learned he had not been a good candidate for Lasik surgery. The combination of his pupil size and the refraction of his eye meant he would have problems. He also learned that the doctors literally plugged the wrong refraction into the computer.

"The idea of suing someone was foreign to me," Morin says. "I don't think of myself as a confrontational type person." Yet, as he considered his situation and conversed more with other victims or Lasik surgery, legal action became a real option. He made contact with Lawrence Baron and Greg Zeuthen.  "Lawrence and Greg reminded me of Gary Cooper in High Noon," recalls Morin. "Lawrence was so intense. And he knew the language... you could tell he knew a lot about Lasik surgery. I thought, 'These are the guys.'"

The case went before a Lane County Circuit Court jury in Eugene on April 9, 2002. On April 11, the jury came back with a verdict against the doctor and awarded Morin $420,000 in damages.  "He didn't eat the day before the trial," Morin says of Baron's intensity. "He went after my case with all his heart and all his soul. We have a saying at work, 'when you're up to your a__ in alligators.' Well, when you're up to your a__, Lawrence is a guy you want by your side. I was thankful to have him as my attorney."

Morin still struggles with his eyesight. He suffers from "dry eyes." The dry eyes make his eyes feel like he's in a hot, dusty, desert wind. He relies mostly on his right eye for vision as his left eye produces what he describes as "a dozen double images." In artificial light, Morin says he sees about 40 percent of what he could see prior to his surgery.

Warren v Imperia

Conductive Keratoplasty
Client: Debbi Warren  |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Conductive Keratoplasty

Mrs. Warren does not favor lawsuits, especially suits against doctors, but she felt that Dr. Imperial should have taken the time to consider better her concerns.

Debbi Warren always had good vision, but as she aged, she developed presbyopia—a condition in which the natural lens of the eye loses its ability to focus.  She used reading glasses bought off the shelf for near vision tasks, like reading, but they were always getting lost.   She heard that Dr. Paul Imperia, a Medford ophthalmologist, promised surgical procedures were available to eliminate or reduce the need for glasses.   She saw Dr. Imperia, who recommended monovision—a vision system in which one eye is purposely made near sighted for near vision tasks while the other eye is left alone for distance vision tasks, like driving.  His office gave Mrs. Warren a minimal test to see if she was a good candidate, which she passed.  However, Mrs.  Warren was concerned. She had tried unsuccessfully to adapt to monovision a couple of years previously.  A local optometrist gave her a contact lens to wear in her left eye to make it nearsighted.  Mrs. Warren wore the contact lens for two weeks but could not get used to the imbalance in the vision between her two eyes.  She gave up the attempt, as she suffered from nausea, headaches, and lack of depth perception.  When Dr. Imperia told her that monovision was the answer to her needs, she told him that she failed a contact lens monovison test two years previously.   

Dr. Imperial had his hand on the door, as he responded quickly that  she need not to worry about her earlier contact lens test.  Trusting Dr. Imperia, Mrs. Warren went ahead with the recommended procedure.  The results were disastrous.  Mrs. Warren experienced the same problems she had with the contact lenses.  She struggled for months to function and eventually a second surgery was performed, which was helpful, but which did not eliminate all of her vision related problems.  Mrs. Warren does not favor lawsuits, especially suits against doctors, but she felt that Dr. Imperial should have taken the time to consider better her concerns.  At a weeklong trial, evidence was introduced that a person failing a contact lens test for monovision is not a good candidate for monovision.   Mrs. Warren argued that only if only Dr. Imperia stopped to consider carefully her concerns, he likely would have recommended against monovision.  At a minimum, he should have repeated a contact lens test.  In the end, a jury agreed with Mrs. Warren that Dr. Imperia was negligent, finding in her favor and awarding her both non-economic and economic damages.

Higley v Heritage Vision Center

Glaucoma
Client: Jacalyn Higley  |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Glaucoma

Jacalyn Higley learned that pain following a dilation of the eyes  is considered and extreme emergency.  She should have been brought back immediately, or sent to a hospital.

Jacalyn Higley always had good vision and good eye health.   However, she went to the Heritage Vision Clinic for a comprehensive eye examination and to get a prescription for reading glasses.  She found reading more difficult as she aged.  At the exam, she mentioned that her mother had glaucoma and the optometrist on duty recommended dilating her eyes so that a better look could be had at the back of the eye.  The exam was said to be normal and Mrs. Higley was sent home with a new prescription for reading glasses.  Several hours later, Mrs. Higley experienced extreme pain in her eye and called the optometrist, who said that pain was not out of the ordinary following an eye dilation.  When the pain persisted, Mrs. Higley called again and was given the same reassurance.  Then, two more calls were made.  During the fourth call, Mrs. Higley experienced such severe pain that she literally fell to the ground, where her children found her several hours later.  Mrs. Higley was rushed to the hospital where an ophthalmologist diagnosed an acute glaucoma attack related the dilation of her eyes.  Several surgical procedures were done to relieve the pressure and Mrs. Higley was placed on glaucoma medication.  Eventually, Mrs. Higley’s pressures were brought under control, but not before there was some damage to her optical nerve and loss of field of vision.   Mrs. Higley then learned that the eye clinic should never have disregarded her phone calls. She learned that pain following a dilation of the eyes  is considered and extreme emergency.  She should have been brought back immediately, or sent to a hospital.  Early control of the problem could have avoided all permanent injury.  Mrs. Higley then brought suit against the clinic and the optometrist—both of whom settled with Mrs. Higley.

Walker v Harri

Surgical Error
Client: Holly Walker | Case: Medical Malpractice | Surgical Error

“I still feel residual pain, but the resolution of my case has helped me move on with my life.”

Living in eastern Oregon, Holly Walker enjoyed gardening and exploring the outdoors with her three children. However, she periodically experienced abdominal pain that eventually became serious enough for her to seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, a physician made a critical mistake in treating Walker that changed the quality of her life forever.

In the spring of 2006, Walker developed pain in the upper right quadrant of her abdomen. She was referred by her primary care physician to a gastroenterologist in Walla Walla, Washington. The gastroenterologist recommended an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure used to identify kidney stones, tumors or narrowing in the bile ducts. He informed Walker that the procedure she needed was fairly simple and carried limited risks for complications. However, during the procedure, the gastroenterologist encountered problems and performed a risky “pre-cut” to better access Walker’s bile duct. His attempt to perform the pre-cut led to a punctured duodenum, which was not detected during Walker’s surgery.

With a torn duodenum, intestinal contents – including bile, hydrochloric acid, food, liquids, and enzymes for digesting food – spill into the abdomen. This life-threatening mixture is noxious and eats away at vital tissues and structures.

Immediately after surgery, Walker felt ill and experienced a great deal of pain. Nevertheless, she was discharged from the hospital, and her condition continued to deteriorate. The following day, Walker went to the emergency room where she was admitted and kept for observation for three days. On the third day, a CT scan was ordered and it revealed the perforated duodenum. Walker’s condition was considered critical, and a Life Flight helicopter was arranged for her immediate transport to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland. After nearly a month of recovery at OHSU, Walker was released and returned home.

Walker realized that she had been the victim of medical malpractice and consulted an attorney for advice. She was eventually referred to Lawrence Baron, who handled her case against the gastroenterologist. With the help of medical experts, Baron was able to demonstrate that the ERCP procedure should never have been performed and that the physician was negligent during surgery and in the post-surgery care he provided. Because of that, the case was successfully settled at mediation.

Walker was impressed by Baron’s determination to hold the gastroenterologist accountable and by his accessibility to her. “Lawrence really did his research into my medical condition and was very professional,” she said. “He was always available and willing to answer my questions.”

Today, Walker’s life has largely returned to normal despite continuing to suffer from abdominal pain that was not addressed by her surgery two years ago. “I still feel residual pain, but the resolution of my case has helped me move on with my life.”

 

Debbi Warren

Lasik Surgery
Client: Lori Ann Dilio |  Case: Medical Malpractice | Lasik Surgery

Debbi Warren always had good 20/20 vision, but as she aged, she developed presbyopia—a condition in which the natural lens of the eye loses its ability to focus for near vision. She used reading glasses bought off the shelf for reading, but they were always getting lost.

She heard that Dr. Paul Imperia, a Medford ophthalmologist, promised surgical procedures were available to eliminate or reduce the need for glasses. She saw Dr. Imperia, who recommended monovision—a vision system in which one eye is purposely made near sighted for near vision tasks while the other eye is left alone for distance vision tasks, like driving. His office gave Mrs. Warren a minimal test to see if she was a good candidate, which she passed. However, Mrs. Warren was concerned. She had tried unsuccessfully to adapt to monovision a couple of years previously. A local optometrist gave her a contact lens to wear in her left eye to make it nearsighted. Mrs. Warren wore the contact lens for two weeks but could not get used to the imbalance in the vision between her two eyes. She gave up the attempt, as she suffered from nausea, headaches, and lack of depth perception. When Dr. Imperia told her that monovision was the answer to her needs, she told him that she failed a contact lens monovision test two years previously. Dr. Imperial had his hand on the door, as he responded quickly that she need not to worry about her earlier contact lens test. Trusting Dr. Imperia, Mrs. Warren went ahead with the recommended procedure.

The results were disastrous. Mrs. Warren experienced the same problems she had with the contact lenses. She struggled for months to function and eventually a second surgery was performed, which was helpful, but which did not eliminate all of her vision related problems. Mrs. Warren does not favor lawsuits, especially suits against doctors, but she felt that Dr. Imperial should have taken the time to consider better her concerns. At a weeklong trial in August 2009, evidence was introduced that a person failing a contact lens test for monovision is not a good candidate for monovision. Mrs. Warren argued that only if only Dr. Imperia stopped to consider carefully her concerns, he likely would have recommended against monovision. At a minimum, he should have repeated a contact lens test. In the end, a jury agreed with Mrs. Warren that Dr. Imperia was negligent, finding in her favor and awarding her both non-economic and economic damages.

Debbi Warren: “Mr. Baron and Mr. Zeuthen are lawyers who leave no stone unturned when it comes to representing their clients. They went toe-to-toe with all of the medical specialists that were against us because they were incredibly knowledgeable about the eye and my condition. They are professional, they keep in close contact with their clients, they have impeccable integrity, and they are GOOD! Most of all, they care about their clients as individuals, not just another case. Thank you so much for all of the hard work you did on my behalf.”

UPDATE: On September 12, 2012 the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s award in Debbie Warren’s case. The Court’s official published decision can be found here.