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| Chaffin Luhana LLP

What are normally seen as “routine” medical procedures can often go very wrong. Comedienne Joan Rivers, for example, was going through a routine scoping of her throat in September 2014 when she went into a cardiac arrest, from which she never recovered.

Single mother Stacey Galette, a Bronx woman, went through what was supposed to be a routine removal of an ectopic pregnancy in 2009. Unfortunately, the procedure resulted in complications that resulted in her losing both legs and most of her hearing. A Brooklyn jury awarded her $62 million in damages as a result of her medical malpractice lawsuit.

Ectopic Pregnancy Requires Treatment

According to the “Brooklyn Eagle,” Galette went through the procedure at Winthrop-University Hospital on Long Island. Three doctors were present during the surgery.

An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fetus grows outside of the inner lining of the uterus, most often in the Fallopian tube. This is a dangerous situation and one in which the baby cannot survive. Early symptoms may include nausea and vomiting with pain, cramping, and light vaginal bleeding. Without treatment, the Fallopian tube may rupture, causing life-threatening internal bleeding.

The standard treatment for an ectopic pregnancy depends on how early it is detected. In the earliest stages, medications can sometimes halt the growth of the pregnancy tissue. If the pregnancy has progressed but the Fallopian tube is still intact, doctors can remove the embryo and repair the damage. This is done through a minimally invasive, laparoscopic technique. If the Fallopian tube has ruptured, emergency surgery is required.

Galette went through the laparoscopic procedure to treat her ectopic pregnancy. It was supposed to be an in-and-out type surgery, but doctors made some serious mistakes.

A Simple Procedure Gone Horribly Wrong

After going through the procedure to remove the embryo, Galette reported experiencing stomach pains, fever, and an abnormal heart rate. Doctors ordered a CT scan, but failed to detect anything wrong. Galette was released from the hospital and told to go home.

Three days later, she returned to the hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain. Only then did doctors discover a perforation in her colon—one that had been made by mistake during her ectopic procedure. It had allowed bacteria to leak out, resulting in a severe infection, sepsis, and septic shock. To stop the infection from spreading any farther, doctors had to give Galette aggressive medications. The veins in her legs later collapsed. Soon, she had gangrene in her legs and had to have them both amputated below the knee.

In total, Galette spent 73 days in intensive care. During that time she also lost some of her hearing because of the powerful antibiotics, and went into cardiac arrest three times. After a lengthy rehabilitation period, she filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the surgeons involved. She remains wheelchair-bound and has to use a colostomy bag.

Jury Agrees with Plaintiff

Galette claimed in her lawsuit that the medical staff had not performed at acceptable standards of care. The jury agreed and awarded her $20 million for past pain and suffering, $38 million for future pain and suffering, and over 4 million for medical treatments.


  1. Gravatar for jc

    This is a truely outrageous decision which I hope is overturned on appeal. There are risks to any medical procedure, and I can see how this unfortunate situation developed. But $62 million! First of all the docs malpractice insurance will pay $1 million or $2 million tops. Doctors are not as rich as plaintiff attorneys, and I bet this doc doesn't have much more than a couple million in attachable assets. Maybe there are some co-defendants who will chip in a couple of million. All told the woman may get $5-$7 million then the docs and everyone will file for bankruptcy and the other $55 million will be written off! This is another reason we need medical courts to get rid of these obscene decisions.

  2. Gravatar for jc

    This outrageous award of $58 million says all that needs to be said about caps on pain and suffering damages! In Ohio, the award would have been reduced to $500,000. That woman will never ever get the total award of $62 million that was eggregiously awarded to her.

  3. Gravatar for jc

    I am surprised at the lack of comment from the legal community about this outrageous verdict! A jury from Mars! This type of verdict serves to stimulate other potential litigants to seek jackpot justice.

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