Attorneys Successfully Defend Health Care Providers Against MedMal Claims
John D. Kelner and Edward R. Blumberg J. Albert Diaz Case: Robin Helfan and Barry Helfan v. Eye Surgery Associates, Guy J. Angella, M.D., Stephen E. Solomon, D.O., Gail P. Ballweg, M.D. Case no: 07-15695 (26)
Description: Medical malpractice
Filing date: July 5, 2007
Verdict date: Feb. 6, 2014 J
udge: Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning Plaintiff attorneys: Ronald Rodman and Estefania Baird, Friedman, Rodman & Frank, Miami Defense attorney: Edward Blumberg, Deutsch & Blumberg, Miami; John Kelner, John D. Kelner Law Offices, Hollywood; and Burt Redlus, Burt E. Redlus P.A., Miami Settlement amount: For the defense Details:
In July and August 2005, Cooper City nurse Robin Helfan, then 49, experienced a sudden loss of peripheral vision. She visited her ophthalmologist, Dr. Guy Angella, who admitted her to Memorial West Hospital in Pembroke Pines for diagnosis and treatment. While she was in the hospital, Dr. Gail Ballweg was called in as a consultant and performed a spinal tap. Dr. Stephen Solomon, a neuro-ophthalmologist, also was called in to consult. He treated her with steroids. A week after she was discharged from the hospital, Helfan experienced the same symptoms and visited Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. She did not improve and still has a significant loss of her peripheral vision. Saying she is now legally blind, cannot drive, bumps into things, needs a cane to walk in public and gets frequent headaches, Helfan filed suit against her various doctors, claiming she could have been cured if treated quickly and appropriately. Plaintiffs case:Helfan's lawyers and experts alleged she was misdiagnosed by the first doctors treating her and suffered from increased cerebral spinal fluid in her brain. If treated early and appropriately, they argued, she could have recovered. Instead, she is now legally blind, cannot drive, bumps into things, needs a cane to walk in public and gets frequent headaches. Ballweg offered to Helfan a small pretrial settlement, which she rejected. At trial, Helfan asked jurors for $12 million. Her experts included Dr. Joel Cohen, a New York City neurologist who testified Ballweg misperformed the spinal tap; Dr. Harry Hamburger, a Miami neuro-ophthalmologist, who testified she had increased cerebral spinal fluid; and her attending doctors at Bascom Palmer, Drs. Byron Lam and Norman Schattz, who wound up helping the defense by testifying Helfan's early treatment was appropriate. Defense case: Blumberg, Ballweg's lawyer, called to the stand Dr. Nicholas Suite, a Cooper City neurologist, who testified she performed the spinal tap correctly, the results were analyzed correctly at Memorial West, and Helfan was diagnosed and treated appropriately. Kelner, Angella's lawyer, called Dr. Bruce Kohrman, a South Miami neuro-ophthalmologist, who testified all the defendants acted appropriately and the right diagnosis and treatment were given. His lawyer called Dr. David Springer, an Oak Park, Ill., ophthalmologist, who testified there was no elevated cerebral spinal pressure. Redlus, Solomon's attorney, called Dr. Henry O'Halloran, a California neuro-ophthalmologist, who testified Solomon's treatment was appropriate. Outcome: Following a three-week trial, jurors deliberated for three hours before clearing all doctors and handing the defense a complete victory. Comments: "I was really reluctant to get involved when Dr. Ballweg called me because we represent injured people," Blumberg said. "It's unusual for me to take that side of the case. But I consented to represent her because I did not think she did anything wrong." Post-verdict: Plaintiffs have filed a motion for a new trial.