Following a one week trial, a Harford County jury returned with a defense verdict in favor of a general surgeon and a regional surgery group. The medical malpractice lawsuit was brought by Raymond Yates, and his wife Cynthia Yates, after Mr. Yates suffered a bile leak after undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal procedure, at Harford Memorial Hospital. While acknowledging that a bile duct injury is a recognized complication of cholecystectomy, Plaintiffs alleged that the surgeon made numerous mistakes, including failing to complete a cholangiogram, or intraoperative x-ray of the biliary tree, and by failing to convert from a laparoscopic to open approach, given the presence of inflammation and adhesions which impeded visualization. Mr. Yates underwent three months of conservative treatment to control his bile leakage, and ultimately required a roux-en-y reconstruction of his biliary tree.
In defense of the claims, Michael Sloneker argued that the laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure was performed in a thoughtful and careful manner, without injury to the main branches of the biliary tree, including the common bile duct, common hepatic duct, or right and left hepatic ducts. Instead, the injury involved an unusual or atypical posterior right segmental duct, which was extrahepatic in Mr. Yates' case, although that duct is typically embedded in the liver. Mr. Sloneker argued that the injury was unavoidable, because the surgeon would not have any anatomical landmarks to identify the posterior right segmental duct, and further, that the duct could not be visualized with an intraoperative cholangiogram. Defense experts testified at trial that a bile duct injury is a recognized complication of cholecystectomy, and that following his surgery, Mr. Yates' bile duct injury was immediately recognized and managed appropriately. The experts also explained that the injury likely occurred during dissection of the gallbladder infundibulum and cystic duct, necessary steps to safely remove the gallbladder. Following closing arguments, the jury returned with a verdict of no negligence by our clients.