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Schenectady County Woman Receives $1.52 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict


A jury in Schenectady County Supreme Court has awarded a Delanson woman $1.52 million after finding that an OB-GYN’s malpractice resulted in her needing a colostomy, the law firm of Powers & Santola, LLP, reports.

After starting deliberations the previous afternoon, the jury reached the verdict on March 2, 2016, ruling unanimously in favor of the plaintiff, Ms. Denise Frith, in her medical malpractice claim against defendants Stephen B. Graham, DO, and his employer, the Bassett Health Care Network.

The jury found that Dr. Graham failed to recognize and repair a bowel injury, which he had caused during surgery, and as a result, Ms. Frith needed to undergo further surgery that left her with a colostomy.

The verdict includes $700,000 for Ms. Frith’s past pain and suffering, $20,000 for past loss of wages and $800,000 for future pain and suffering.

“I am grateful that the jury recognized the horrific injuries I suffered and what I went through as a result of Dr. Graham’s carelessness,” Ms. Frith said in a released statement.

Attorneys Daniel R. Santola and Margie A. Soehl – partners at the Albany-based law firm of Powers & Santola, LLP – presented evidence to the jury in the form of the plaintiff’s testimony, certified medical records and testimony from experts in the fields of obstetrics, gynecology and general surgery. Judge Vincent J. Reilly presided over the seven-day trial.

“It is unfortunate that it took all this time and a jury to appreciate how sick Denise was following her surgery,” Mr. Santola said. “The jury’s verdict sends a clear message that surgeons who fail to carefully inspect their work will be held fully accountable for the injuries they cause.”

The surgical experts called by Ms. Frith testified that Dr. Graham had a duty to carefully inspect, find and promptly repair any significant cuts that he inadvertently made during surgery. The experts further testified that Dr. Graham’s failure to do so before he closed the surgical site resulted in a severe infection in Ms. Frith’s abdomen, according to Powers & Santola, LLP.

The infection worsened during the following 10 days and grew so severe that Ms. Frith had to be transferred to the surgical intensive care unit on the fifth day after her surgery, the law firm reports.

On the 10th post-surgical day, a different surgeon took Ms. Frith back to surgery to clean out a large amount of the infection. However, by that time, the infection had so damaged her intestines that it was necessary to perform the colostomy, according to the firm.

Ms. Frith told the jury during questioning by one of her attorneys, Ms. Soehl, that she wore a colostomy bag for the next seven months and needed to undergo two more abdominal surgeries to address the complications she suffered.

With the use of courtroom technology, Ms. Frith’s lawyers displayed certified medical records to the jury on a 60-inch flat-screen TV. The attorneys also presented a 3-D animation of the anatomy involved in the surgery.

Throughout the case-in-chief, Mr. Santola and Ms. Soehl asserted that, as a result of the defendants’ departure from accepted standards of medical care, Ms. Frith suffered permanent effects from the improperly performed surgical procedure and infection, including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

The jury, comprised of four women and two men, unanimously found that Dr. Graham’s malpractice “was a substantial factor in causing the injuries suffered by Denise E. Frith,” according to the verdict sheet.

“We are pleased that the jury carefully considered the evidence and held Dr. Graham accountable for his negligence and the injuries suffered by Denise,” Ms. Soehl said.

Mr. Edward D. Laird of the Albany law firm of Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird, P.C., represented the defendants.

The case is Denise E. Frith v. The Bassett Healthcare Network, The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, individually and D.B.A. The Bassett Medical Center, The Bassett Hospital Physicians’ Group and Stephen B. Graham, D.O., Schenectady County Supreme Court, Index # 2013-762.

For additional information about the case, please contact Mr. Santola at (518) 465-5995.

About Powers & Santola, LLP

Founded in 1987, the law firm of Powers & Santola, LLP, assists individuals in Albany and Onondaga counties and throughout New York State who have suffered serious, catastrophic injuries due to the carelessness of others. The firm primarily focuses on medical malpractice, including cases involving the delayed diagnosis of cancer, and construction site accident cases. Please contact the firm to learn more.

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