While working as a waitress, Watson suffered an injury causing pain in her groin. Prior to her work-related injury, she had experienced chronic pain in her pelvic region. Taylor performed a surgical procedure on Watson to determine if she had a hernia, and to repair the condition if it existed. During the surgery, Taylor discovered that Watson did not have a hernia. He did, however, cut and remove her ilioinguinal nerve because, based on his medical judgment, the groin pain that Watson had been experiencing could have been caused by movement of that nerve. Watson contended that Taylor was negligent in the performance of that surgery and that she suffered permanent disabling pain because of that negligence. Alternatively, Watson argued that Taylor did not obtain her informed consent.
At the time of the trial, Watson claimed that she had physical limitations, that she was in considerable pain, and that her overall condition was much worse than before the surgery. The two basic issues at trial were whether Taylor’s surgical procedure was within the applicable standard of care, and whether Watson’s problems were due to the surgery or due to the problems she had before the surgery.
Watson argued that admission of evidence of her worker’s compensation claim violated the collateral source rule. Evidence of a collateral source may have been admissible to attack Watson’s credibility as to causation, provided the jury was given proper limiting instructions. Higgins v. Martin Marietta Corp., 752 F.2d 492, 497-98 (10th Cir. 1985). The trial court found that the admission of the evidence did not violate the collateral source rule because it was admitted for the sole purpose of allowing the jury to assess Watson’s credibility as to her claim that the surgery caused her disability.
One of Watson’s treating physicians testified that Watson may have been suffering from hyperalgesia, an opioid-induced syndrome that created a low tolerance for pain. Watson argued that the introduction of that testimony was prejudicial because it implied that she was taking too many opioids. The court found that testimony as to whether another medical condition may have been causing Watson’s current condition was relevant. The probative value of that testimony was not outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.
Watson also argued that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. She contended that the evidence showed that Taylor removed her ilioinguinal nerve without her consent and without informing her of the risks. The court found sufficient evidence from which a jury could have concluded that Watson was informed of the risks and that she consented to the procedure. There was also sufficient evidence to cast doubt on her theory that the surgery caused her current problems. Additionally, the expert testimony supported the conclusion that Taylor acted within the standard of care.
Judge(s): O'Hara, U.S. Magistrate Judge
|Plaintiff Lawyer(s)||Plaintiff Law Firm(s)|
|Patrick Berrigan||Watson & Dameron LLP|
|Russell Dameron||Watson & Dameron LLP|
|Henri Watson||Watson & Dameron LLP|
|Defendant Lawyer(s)||Defendant Law Firm(s)|
|Mark Buck||Fairchild and Buck PA|