When the patient at the center of a medical malpractice case dies following a relatively routine medical procedure, the defense must often overcome a natural tendency among jurors to believe the healthcare staff involved must have committed some error. During closing arguments of Bailey v. Corso, Daniel Huff delivered a powerful appeal to reason that convinced jurors his client, an Emory Healthcare surgeon, was blameless in the procedure that punctured his patient's heart.
Arlene Bailey died days after her left ventricle was punctured during a routine heart catheterization procedure conducted by Dr. J. Eduardo Corso. In seeking up to $8 million in damages, attorneys for Bailey's family claimed Corso wasn't properly monitoring the progression of the catheter as it was guided toward her heart through a blood vessel in her neck.
As Huff described it, the case turned on a dispute between experts over whether Corso erred in watching the catheter's progression toward Bailey's heart rather than watching her heart itself as the catheter approached. Although plaintiff's expert, Dr. Russell Samson, testified Corso should have been monitoring Bailey's heart, Huff noted two defense experts, Drs. Peter H'doubler and Anthony Avino, disagreed with Samson's technique. "That's not how they were taught. That's not how they do the procedure. That's not how Dr. Avino teaches the (medical) residents in Savannah," Huff reminded jurors.
But, beyond the expert opinions, Huff emphasized sheer reason supported Corso's technique. Holding up the pointed end of a cardiac catheter for the jury, Huff asked "Does it make common sense to you that you should not be watching when you're advancing things like this over a wire into a person's anatomy?"
It was a demonstration, and appeal to logic, that helped sway the jury to his client.
Not a Subscriber?