Healthcare Professional Liability
In six months, WTO lawyers won six consecutive medical malpractice defense verdicts in five states, defeating $105 million in claims in those cases alone.
In trial after trial, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell attorneys represent healthcare entities and professionals against claims that keep risk managers and in-house counsel awake at night.
WTO partners practicing in high-stakes medical malpractice and related professional liability cases have collectively tried more than 550 lawsuits to verdict, with outstanding results for our clients. We are not aware of any healthcare defense practice in the nation with our combination of trial experience, bench strength, and results.
WTO lawyers serve as national trial counsel to some of the nation's largest specialty insurers for medical malpractice and related product liability claims. Our experience includes class actions, multidistrict litigation, and high-exposure cases in which plaintiffs seek damage awards, including punitive or exemplary damages, in the tens of millions of dollars or more.
We are regularly retained on the eve of trial to try difficult cases involving serious physical injuries or death, often in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions, when prior resolution strategies or trial preparations have not achieved the desired results. These include numerous lawsuits involving birth trauma, traumatic brain injury, and spinal interventions.
Technical and Practical Knowledge
Our extensive experience provides a sound background from which to develop litigation, trial, and resolution strategies that take into account the technical considerations our healthcare clients live with every day. A number of WTO attorneys have formal education in the sciences, and many have in-depth scientific and engineering knowledge acquired through years of practice in technically complex cases.
WTO also employs full-time nurse paralegals and two physician analysts who have experience in the daily practice of medicine, nursing, and health-related businesses. These professionals bring tremendous practical knowledge to our teams and help identify issues and opportunities related to our clients' cases.
- Following a successful trial, achieved favorable resolution for a client in a capacity to contract case.
- Successfully defended multiple physician clients in a high-exposure wrongful death case against a nationally recognized plaintiffs' attorney. WTO's strong expert witness development allowed us to attain favorable resolution for our clients at a fraction of the plaintiff's multimillion-dollar demand.
- Handled board matters for physician clients before the Department of Regulatory Agencies and Colorado Medical Board.
- Successfully defended a healthcare client facing multiple claims, including treble damages. After WTO's successful motion to dismiss resulted in the dismissal of all but one claims, WTO was able to resolve the sole remaining claim for nuisance value.
- Obtained early dismissal in a multimillion-dollar case for a New Mexico healthcare client. WTO's aggressive early motion practice and creative expert discovery at the earliest stages of litigation were key to achieving this successful outcome.
- Obtained a voluntary walkaway dismissal in a New Mexico wrongful death case. Early dispositive motion practice forced the plaintiff to withdraw claims against WTO's client.
- Called in two weeks before trial, won a defense verdict in a multimillion-dollar medical negligence trial in Utah for an orthopedic surgeon and physician's assistant accused of allowing a patient to slide off the operating table, allegedly leading to permanent brain and spine injuries. WTO demonstrated that the plaintiff's complaints were actually due to prescription drug overuse and that the plaintiff had lied under oath.
- Won the first medical malpractice defense verdict in plaintiff-friendly Las Vegas, New Mexico in over 35 years for a hospital in a $40 million case involving allegations of failure to diagnose and treat a lung disease which resulted in a patient's death. The jury unanimously found for WTO's client.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Montana for a medical center and pediatric neurologist facing up to $30 million in damages. The plaintiff claimed that WTO's clients failed to timely diagnose and treat a rare neurological disease that led to blindness. Courtroom View Network named this one of the Top 10 verdicts of 2022.
- Won exclusion of the plaintiff's causation expert and achieved summary judgment in a medical malpractice case. The victory also led to an award of more than $40,000 in attorney fees.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Washington for a pediatric cardiologist accused of malpractice and facing $120 million in claimed damages related to an infant's brain damage.
- Won summary judgment for a correctional healthcare provider and nurse in a medical malpractice case involving endocarditis.
- Won a defense jury verdict, working closely with local counsel, for an Iowa obstetrician accused of negligence during the delivery of a baby born with severe physical and cognitive deficits in 2007.
- Defeated a motion to compel a hospital's internal quality control review following the death of a patient, establishing a federal peer review privilege, and defeated a motion to compel the hospital's plan of correction.
- Argued remotely and won reversal of a $15 million medical malpractice jury verdict in the Colorado Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine precluded the plaintiff's claims against WTO's surgery center client.
- Defending a large health system against one of the earliest filed claims in the U.S. involving a COVID-19-related patient death.
- Won a defense verdict in a three-week trial for a Michigan hospital following an in-hospital cardiac arrest and alleged brain injury. The plaintiff sought more than $14 million in damages in plaintiff-friendly downtown Detroit. The jury found for WTO's client after deliberating for less than 20 minutes.
- Won a defense verdict after a four-week trial for a physician facing $70 million in damages claims arising from allegations that WTO's client and others failed to timely diagnose and treat bacterial meningitis in a minor. Seven co-defendants settled, leaving WTO's physician client and another physician defendant alone at trial.
- Won a defense verdict in federal court for a hospital and its staff against $27 million malpractice and negligence claims involving a subdural empyema.
- After trying a case to a hung jury in Oregon, achieved favorable settlement for a physician facing malpractice and negligence claims brought by a patient.
- Won an appeal regarding application of the Anti-SLAPP statute to a defamation action brought by a physician against a hospital.
- Won a defense verdict in Philadelphia, during the week of Christmas, for a hospital and its physician assistant who diagnosed muscle strain when in fact the plaintiff had an infection that resulted in the amputation of her leg. The jury agreed with WTO's arguments that, given the circumstances, the original diagnosis was reasonable.
- Obtained dismissal for an Ohio hospital in a medical malpractice action. WTO lawyers, with co-counsel from Ohio, successfully challenged the plaintiff's unscientific and unsupported theory that cranial compression from the normal birth process can cause brain damage. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case during a Daubert hearing after examination of only two of plaintiff's seven scheduled experts.
- Won a unanimous defense verdict in a $55 million trial in eastern Kentucky for a hospital accused of malpractice.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Ohio for two neonatologists facing claims of negligently handling the care of a newborn baby.
- Obtained a favorable jury verdict in South Carolina for a national healthcare company in an admitted liability wrongful death case involving punitive damages.
- Won a defense jury verdict in a $31 million medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois involving a newborn who developed sepsis, meningitis, and catastrophic brain damage. WTO then won the subsequent appeal (3-0 panel decision).
- Won a complete defense jury verdict for a mental health hospital in Virginia. The plaintiff claimed $32 million in damages arising from an alleged patient-on-patient sexual assault.
- Won a complete defense verdict and dismissal of punitive damages claims for a Wyoming hospital and codefendant physicians facing non-negotiable $19 million negligence claims brought by a plaintiff who suffered a stroke following emergency room treatment for a head wound.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Ohio for an obstetrician facing claims of medical negligence and lack of informed consent, and damages claims in excess of $15 million, arising from a stroke suffered by a newborn following a difficult delivery. The obstetrician passed away tragically and unexpectedly before trial, making the defense of the care problematic.
- Won a complete defense jury verdict in California for an emergency room doctor in a medical malpractice lawsuit with over $22 million at stake in damages claims. WTO was called in just 10 days prior to the three-week trial.
- Won a defense jury verdict for a spinal surgeon in a multimillion-dollar medical malpractice lawsuit in Colorado. The patient experienced a complication during surgery that resulted in partial paralysis. WTO lawyers demonstrated that our client was not at fault. Following the two-week trial, jurors delivered a complete defense verdict.
- Obtained summary judgment for a physician's assistant in a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging surgical malpractice resulting in partial paralysis.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Ohio in a two-week trial involving allegations of medical malpractice resulting in birth injuries. The plaintiffs sought over $18 million in damages, and WTO lawyers were brought in to defend the case just three weeks before trial.
- Warden v. Exempla (Colo. App. 2014) - Won affirmance from the Colorado Court of Appeals in a defense verdict for WTO's labor and delivery nurse client. Plaintiffs had claimed $17 million in this obstetrical malpractice claim.
- Won an appeal argued before the Colorado Supreme Court challenging a trial court's order to submit Quality Management Privileged (QMP) materials relating to an incident at issue in a medical malpractice trial. The appellate decision is significant, as the QMP designation allows hospitals and healthcare providers to assess and innovate following critical incidents without concern that their discussions will be discovered.
- Obtained dismissal of claims against a private hospital, establishing an exception to the traditional rule of vicarious liability in New York State.
- Won a defense jury verdict in Columbus, Ohio, in a medical malpractice case involving paraplegia allegedly resulting from failure to timely diagnose a spinal epidural abscess.
- Won a complete defense verdict in federal court in Colorado for an emergency physician in a three-week medical malpractice trial in which the plaintiff alleged misdiagnosis leading to paralysis and asserted damage claims of $12 million.
- Won a complete defense verdict in state court in Minnesota in a case involving allegations that a doctor's spinal epidural injection resulted in paraplegia. Prior to trial, the plaintiffs rejected a $4 million offer of judgment. Following two weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated 11 hours over two days, returning with a unanimous defense verdict.
- Obtained victory before the Colorado Court of Appeals for a bariatric surgeon. WTO lawyers tried and won the original case, which involved alleged complications following gastric bypass surgery. The Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff's assertions that the lower court erred in precluding certain expert testimony and affirmed the 2011 trial court verdict.
- Won a unanimous defense verdict for a labor and delivery nurse in a $17 million, three-and-a-half-week obstetrical malpractice trial in Colorado state court.
- Won a unanimous defense verdict for four psychiatric hospital nurses in a two-week medical malpractice trial in Boston involving the tragic death of a child. Despite the fact that one nurse admitted negligence for herself and implicated the other three, WTO lawyers effectively argued that the nurse's negligence did not cause the patient's death and that the other nurses acted appropriately within the scope of their responsibilities.
- Won a defense decision for a Philadelphia psychiatric hospital in a two-day medical malpractice arbitration involving the death of a patient killed in an auto accident hours after being discharged.
- Won a defense verdict for a Florida hospital in a three-week medical malpractice trial. The case involved a baby who suffered cerebral palsy after a rare delivery complication. The plaintiff sued the hospital for $7 million, claiming complications could have been avoided had a C-section been performed. The WTO team successfully argued the complication was unpredictable and unpreventable, and the doctors actually saved the mother and child.
- Obtained a favorable settlement for a large excess insurance company in a medical malpractice case involving a permanent disability to a young child resulting from surgery conducted by a doctor who was not board certified.
- Affirmed on appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals WTO's unanimous defense jury verdict for a hospital after a three-week trial in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs alleged the doctor provided less than the standard of care, resulting in an infant's cerebral palsy. WTO established the child's condition was attributable to his 14-week premature birth.
- Won a unanimous jury defense verdict for a cardiothoracic surgeon in a two-week medical malpractice trial involving injuries associated with an atrial fibrillation surgery.
- Won a jury defense verdict for an orthopedic spine surgeon in a medical malpractice case with millions of dollars in damage claims at stake, including eight years of accruing pretrial interest.
- Represented a hospital in a four-week trial in California involving special damages in excess of $10 million in claims relating to the care of an adult male with brain damage. The jury returned a verdict of $6 million, but also found the plaintiff 75% contributory negligent. After the setoff from settling the defendant, WTO's client owed only $37,000.
- Won a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case in Florida involving permanent brain injury to a well-known plaintiff's lawyer. WTO was asked to take over the case two weeks into trial and after both local and regional defense counsel recommended settling the case for $12-15 million.
- Won a Colorado Court of Appeals opinion upholding WTO's jury defense verdict in a medical malpractice trial involving shoulder dystocia.
- Villalpando v. Denver Health, 181 P.3d 357 (Colo. App. 2007) - Won affirmance from the Colorado Court of Appeals for four doctors in a medical tort case involving wrongful death claims relating to medical treatment provided to the plaintiff's husband before his death.
- Obtained a defense verdict in a New Hampshire trial involving the death of a 63-year-old man following complications from gall bladder surgery. With just two weeks' notice, WTO demonstrated that an empty oxygen tank, which the decedent used for supplemental oxygen shortly before his cardiac arrest, did not cause his death. Ultimately, the jury agreed.
- Following opening arguments, negotiated favorable settlement of a $50 million medical malpractice lawsuit in Iowa.
- Won a defense verdict in Oregon as co-counsel in a $9 million trial involving negligence claims in a birth trauma case involving shoulder dystocia.