John Gismondi secures $1.8 million for victim of failed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome

John Gismondi of the Law Offices of Gismondi & Associates has secured more than $1.8 million for a man who claimed his emergency room physician from Forbes Regional Hospital failed to diagnose him with cauda equina syndrome, otherwise known as “horse’s tail” syndrome. The trial was overseen by Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Judge Michael A. Della Vecchia; docket # GD 12-17566, Allegheny County.

Cauda equina syndrome is a neurologic condition wherein damage to the cauda equina, which is the bundle of spinal nerves and nerve roots at the bottom of the spine cord, can cause loss of bowel, bladder, and sexual function.

Attorney Gismondi cited liability as the major factor in the case. The defense claimed that the plaintiff’s complaints in the emergency room were not consistent with cauda equina syndrome because he did not show any classic signs, such as loss of bowel and bladder function, while being treated. Instead, the defendant characterized the victim’s complaints as typical lower back pain that were resolved by the time the man was discharged soon thereafter. The ER doctor told the court that the victim left the hospital content and feeling better.

The defense also attempted to bolster its stand by telling the jury that if the plaintiff was still feeling pain or numbness, he should have gone for treatment in the three days following the trip to the emergency room. When bowel and bladder difficulties set in, the plaintiff did eventually go back to the hospital and was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome. Surgery to heal the problem was completed, but some of the damage was irreversible and may have not been so if the ER physician had made the correct diagnosis when he first saw the patient.

Attorney Gismondi told the court that his client’s complaints in the emergency room were far worse than the defense characterized them and that he did in fact complain of numbness in both legs, which was not indicative of typical back pain. Gismondi explained that if his client’s complaints were taken seriously in the ER, then an MRI would have been ordered and the cauda equina syndrome would have been found. Gismondi also told the court that contrary to the ER doctor’s statement about the manner in which the victim left the hospital, his client was actually unable to walk, required a wheelchair, and needed assistance to get into a friend’s vehicle.

The jury found the plaintiff’s claims to be true and awarded him the verdict. The plaintiff’s compensation will cover pain and suffering and future wage earning capacity.

Attorney Gismondi is proud to have helped his client win the case and collect a fair recovery. He remains adamant that when physicians and other health care professionals fail to properly do their job, they should be held accountable for their negligence.

Prior to trial, Mr. Gismondi obtained a separate monetary settlement from the radiologist who read the CT scan done in the ER.