Unanimous Defense Verdict in Amputation Case Following Surgery and Burns from Car Heater

September 12, 2023

David Perron and Philip Willman secured a unanimous defense verdict in a case in which the plaintiff offered a unique claim, alleging that he suffered second degree burns on his toes from a car heater while driving home from the hospital following a total ankle replacement. Plaintiff claimed his lower extremity was still insensate from the nerve block given at the time of the underlying procedure. Plaintiff alleged the anesthesiologists as well as the podiatrist performing the total ankle replacement should have provided a specific warning to beware of extremes of hot and cold while his limb was insensate. He further alleged he should not have been discharged from the hospital with the nerve block still in effect. Plaintiff indicated the doctors negligently managed the burn by not admitting him to the hospital and not changing the dressings more often, leading to an infection and the necessity to amputate his toes. Plaintiff later suffered continued phantom pain, necessitating a below-the-knee amputation.

Defendants argued the standard of care did not require such specific warnings beyond a directive to “protect the limb” and said the plaintiff was appropriately discharged from the hospital and that the block had already worn off when he left the hospital. Defendants argued plaintiff was non-compliant with several other instructions, and that the extent of the burn necessitated the transmetatarsal amputation (TMA) not an infection. Plaintiff’s brother-in-law drove him home after surgery in a Jeep and described the uncomfortable heat that he observed from the car heater and the blister on plaintiff’s toe after the drive. During closing argument, Plaintiff suggested damages in the range of $1 million to $2 million. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense.