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New trial granted to couple suing over surgical errors

Some Oregon residents know that not all medical malpractice lawsuits go as planned. When people suffer from surgical errors and seek restitution for them through a lawsuit, they hope that everyone involved, including the judge and attorneys, will be professional. However, on occasion, mistakes are made, which often prompts one of the parties to file an appeal.

One couple from another state recently won the right for a new trial after nearly two years of appeals. It was determined that in the first trial, the judge's behavior jeopardized the couple's right to a fair trial. In fact, in its opinion, the appeals court described the judge's behavior as disturbing and bizarre. Reportedly, he moved around the courtroom, embraced an expert witness for the defense and even ate candy while sitting with the jury, among other things.

The lawsuit stems from a 2010 gallbladder removal that the Louisiana couple says went wrong. It is alleged that the surgeon who performed the procedure severed the wrong structure that connects the gallbladder to the liver. This caused damage to the patient's liver due to leaking bile. In 2013, the jury dismissed the couple's claim, finding that there was insufficient evidence to establish liability. Now, they can plead their case once again.

This case illustrates that not all medical malpractice cases are lost due to a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. From time to time, there are procedural and/or personnel issues within the court that deny people who are seeking restitution for surgical errors the right to present their cases. Even though this case did not take place here in Oregon, the issues that presented themselves in this case could occur anywhere. Fortunately, our system of justice allows people who believe they were denied their legal right to pursue the remedies available to them to go to a higher court for relief.

Source:, "Houma couple win new trial in medical malpractice lawsuit", Maki Somosot, May 31, 2016

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