Laws v. Singh, Case No. 24-C-17-000409 (Circuit Court for Baltimore City): Trial from March 7, 2018 – March 9, 2018
Although the main areas of practice I handle are foreclosure defense, divorce & family law, and appeals, when Glenda Laws came into my office, I felt very strongly about her case, and wanted to make sure she received justice.
On February 2, 2015, she went to a doctor, who she had trusted for years, to remove a lap band from her stomach. A lap band is a weight loss device that constricts the stomach in an effort to force the patient to eat less and lose weight. The lap band had about 18 inches of tubing. The doctor negligently left 6 inches of the tubing (a whole third of the thing) inside Mrs. Laws.
What makes this worse is that he was the same doctor who put the tubing in Mrs. Laws in the first place. And, it was the same length of tubing he used with all his patients. So he clearly should have known that one-third of this thing he had worked with on over 400 other patients was missing (and still inside the patient). Indeed, even his own expert witness at trial admitted that bariatric surgeons, like the doctor in this case, rarely measure these devices because they are supposed to be able to “eyeball” things.
The 6-inch foreign object left inside Mrs. Laws caused her excruciating pain. Although she was only supposed to be in a 3 or 4 on the pain scale for two or three days after the surgery, the foreign object scraping against the inside of her abdomen left her in a full 10 out of 10 on the pain scale for over a week! This poor woman couldn’t do anything around her house, other than cry and moan in pain, and was only able to sleep three hours a night because of the pain.
But, even more disturbing, is what the doctor did next (or what he failed to do). On February 9, 2015, after Mrs. Laws had been repeatedly complaining to him about the pain, the doctor finally ordered a CT Scan, which showed that the 6 inches of tubing was still inside Mrs. Laws. Amazingly, despite knowing how much pain the patient was in, and despite now knowing for a fact that the foreign object was left inside her (thanks to the CT Scan), he just waited another two days before taking the stuff out of her.
The jury listened to all this evidence over three days of trial. And, at the end of the case, they agreed that the doctor was negligent, and awarded Mrs. Laws compensation for the horrible pain she endured. The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $800,000.
Being a lawyer can often be a thankless job. You are often yelled at by judges, in heated arguments with opposing lawyers, and the butt of an endless and relentless barrage of lawyer jokes from loved ones at Thanksgiving dinner. But its cases like this that remind me of how much good a lawyer can do. I am truly honored to have been able to help Mrs. Laws.
Image Credit: Weiss Paarz