While medical malpractice trials often focus on a battle of experts and complicated standards of care, sometimes an argument appealing to a jury's "common sense" can be the most effective way to turn a case. In a med mal trial over a patient’s blindness, Paul Weathington’s forceful close deftly keyed on expectations of treatment and follow-up care responsibilities to help clear a Georgia neurologist.
Kimberly Izundu suffered optic nerve damage that has left her legally blind after a 2014 bout of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a rare condition in which pressure in the spaces of the brain can become dangerously high. Izundu claims Choi failed to diagnose the condition or follow up in time to save her vision, despite her tell-tale symptoms and abnormal results of an MRI.
During closings of the three-day trial in which plaintiff requested $10 million in damages, Weathington, of Weathington McGrew, told jurors that, despite arguments over Izundu’s symptoms and how they should have been treated, the case was simple. “Did [Choi] do what he was supposed to do in trying to evaluate this patient’s eyes?” Weathington asked. “And what he did was refer her to an expert in the eye, an opthamologist.”
Weathington argued that ophthalmological testing could have diagnosed Izundu’s condition in time to save her sight, and that Choi had issued the proper referral. But he said, Izundu did not get the test in time.
Weathington bristled at the suggestion that Choi should have provided Izundu more information or done more to follow up. “You remember [plaintiff’s expert] Dr. [Robert] Kardon saying we needed to tell her what her specific diagnosis was before she went to the eye doctor?” Weathington asked. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in my life.
“She came to us because she was having vision trouble. She said it was getting worse the second time. And we told her to go to the eye doctor. Because you’ve got vision trouble. That’s why you go to the eye doctor, because your eyes aren’t working good. And you might lose vision.”
Weathington pushed back even harder against the contention Choi should have followed up. “I guess we had to drive her, I guess we had to get an Uber. I guess we had to follow her around and make sure she had gone,” Weathington said.
Following Weathington's powerful closing, jurors took an hour-and-a-half to clear Choi.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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