Hoffer & Sheremet Wins Medical Malpractice Trial in Traverse City – First Traverse City Plaintiff’s Verdict in 22 Years

Judge Power told us during pretrial litigation that a plaintiff has not won a medical malpractice trial in Grand Traverse County since 1997. Yesterday, Hoffer & Sheremet changed that. After a 7 1/2 day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in our client’s favor for FULL COMPENSATION (every penny we asked for). The case was The Estate of Karl Thomsen v Michael Nizzi, DO, Grand Traverse Circuit Court Case No. 17-32373-NM.

This is a monumental victory, not just for our clients and our firm, but for all citizens of Grand Traverse County. We firmly believe that when a community does not hold its health care physicians accountable, quality of care suffers. Yesterday, the community stood up and by holding the physician accountable, demanded better care for the community. 

The case involved the failure of a general surgeon to order a sleep study to evaluate for sleep apnea before a bariatric surgery, and the failure to recommend a safer sleeve gastrectomy when he suspected the patient might have sleep apnea. We claimed that Dr. Michael Nizzi failed to adequately advise our client of the significantly increased risk untreated sleep apnea posed with an open Roux-en-Y surgery compared to a sleeve gastrectomy. Post-operatively, our client suffered respiratory failure related to sleep apnea, and aspirated during intubation, resulting in pneumonia and sepsis. Eight days post-op, Mr. Thomsen began vomiting. Dr. Nizzi inserted a tube, which resolved the vomiting, but he did not order a CT to determine whether there was a bowel obstruction causing the vomiting. Several days later, Mr. Thomsen’s bowel perforated, requiring two additional surgeries. A fistula later developed, causing bowel contents to leak from the small intestine through the skin. The wound was so severe that a skin graft surgery was required, and a year and a half later, an abdominal reconstructive surgery.

We offered to settle the case within the doctor’s insurance limits. They refused, offering our clients nothing. The jury returned a verdict that was 40% over limits. After we submit out costs and assess offer of judgment sanctions for attorney fees, we expect the final number to be about 80% over limits.