Posted On: November 5, 2007 by Ronald V. Miller, Jr.

Medical Malpractice Verdict in West Virginia

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the West Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a $1.7 million medical malpractice verdict against a West Virginia physician who blinded a patient during an elective surgical procedure.

This is the second article I have seen on this case. The first article was after the jury rendered its verdict. The interesting thing about the case is that the doctor’s lawyers essentially alleged that the plaintiff was faking his injury. All of the articles I have seen have said the same thing. The defendants presented 50 hours of surveillance video from a construction site, but the trial judge found the video showed, “Heckel was disabled, even though the defense omitted footage showing him struggling at such tasks as walking down steps.”

You can Google that sentence and you will find it in a number of different articles. But it makes no sense. Did the jury consider the evidence or was it inadmissible? What happened to the omitted footage? Was it destroyed? What was the practical effect of the judge’s ruling? (If anyone knows, let me know.) But the interesting thing is that that doctor’s lawyers apparently wanted to use the snippets from 50 hours of surveillance that would lead the jury to believe that he might not be blind, but wanted to omit (or delete) the evidence that showed he was blind.

It seems like this doctor’s medical malpractice lawyers had a pretty difficult time showing the doctor did not commit medical malpractice, so they took a shot at attacking the plaintiff. This usually backfires, just as it did in this medical malpractice case.