What Money Damages Can Surgical Stapling Victims Recover

Surgery can be a frightening and anxiety-ridden process to undergo. If you or a loved one has ever undergone surgery, then you know it can come with inherent risks. One major risk is surgical stapling, which uses a mechanical device to close wounds and seal tissue together. Injuries caused by surgical stapling can range from minor to deadly, and they’re one of the most commonly reported complications in surgery.

But what happens to the patient when something goes wrong? Do surgical stapling victims have the right to compensation? Many people know about the surgical stapling injuries that result in permanent disfigurement and disability. However, they may not be aware of the money they could recover. If you or a loved one are a victim of surgical malpractice, you may recover money damages. Our legal team can provide solid guidance on how to pursue your case.

Surgical Stapler Side Effects

There are many surgical stapler side effects that victims can recover from. Many victims may experience:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty moving arms or legs 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking
  • Bleeding
  • Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
  • Anastomotic leakage
  • Hernia
  • Leaks from staple lines
  • Infection(s)
  • Sepsis

The severity of the stapler’s side effects depends on several factors, including the type of staple used and where the surgeon placed it. Some victims experience only mild side effects, such as discomfort or bruising. Others may experience severe pain, bleeding, and infection. These injuries can sometimes lead to long-term disability or even death.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are several reasons for stapler failing, including:

  • The stapler jamming because of a malfunction or difficulty in firing
  • Using too much or too little effort when firing 
  • Incorrectly inserting a staple
  • Clumsily applied staples 
  • Staples snapping during or after insertion
  • Flaws in the shape of the staples
  • Bacteria in the staple causing an infection
  • A metal particle from the staple gets into the bloodstream

If you are the victim of a stapler side effect, you may file a lawsuit seeking financial damages. This includes any injury-related costs, like medical bills or lost wages. You may also be able to recover punitive damages if the injury was intentional or caused by negligence.

Injuries Claimed in Lawsuits

The most common injuries claimed in surgical stapling lawsuits include:

Medical Expenses

If you have a serious injury, your medical bills could be significant. These include the cost of physical therapy, medications, and other treatments related to your injuries.

Lost Wages

Surgical staples can cause injuries that last for months or even years, and many patients have to take time off work to heal. Patients who are unable to work because of their injuries will likely lose money from their usual sources of income.

Funeral Expenses

Surgical staples have killed several people recently, and many more are at risk. Funeral expenses can be quite high. In addition to the costs of the funeral, there are fees associated with cremation and burial plots.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

The loss of enjoyment of life can be even more significant. When patients go through major surgery and have to spend weeks or months in recovery, they might be unable to do anything enjoyable, like playing sports, hiking, or even getting around easily.

Punitive Damages

A court awards punitive damages in cases where the manufacturer is found guilty of gross negligence or malice. Punitive damages make an example out of the negligent party, sending a message that this behavior isn’t tolerated.

Pain and Suffering

The pain of an injury can be severe and long-lasting. This type of damage often includes the psychological effects that may last for years after the surgery.

Surgical stapling injuries are serious and can result in long-term pain and disability. However, even the most severe injuries do not always lead to a successful lawsuit. If you have suffered a surgical stapling injury, an attorney who understands medical malpractice cases can help.

Verdicts and Settlements in Stapler Lawsuits

Injury victims of surgical stapling often face long and expensive legal battles, with many ending in settlements. Here’s a look at some of the most high-profile verdicts and settlements in recent years.

In 2012, a Pennsylvania family claimed that a malfunctioning stomach stapler during gastric bypass surgery was to blame for the death of their loved one. When the Ethicon stapling device failed to seal the surgical wound, stomach contents spilled out, the lawsuit claims. The jury awarded the family $5 million in compensation.

The company issued recalls in May 2013 for Ethicon Echelon 60 mm and Echelon Flex.

Additionally, in 2012, Florence Kuhlmann claimed that an Ethicon proximal surgical stapler misfired and shut her anal cavity, leading to two weeks of hospital treatment. The damage required her to permanently use an external colostomy bag. She was given $80 million by a jury in California, the largest case settlement on record. About $70 million of the settlement was punitive penalties. As a result, the hemorrhoid staplers were recalled by Ethicon later that year.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much money is awarded in a settlement. The key to pursuing the best possible settlement is proving the at-fault party owed you a duty of care and that their breach of that duty caused your injuries. Your attorney can help gather this evidence, calculate your potential settlement and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

$5.5 Million Settlement for Stapler-Related Death

A $5.5 million settlement was reached in a lawsuit filed by the husband of a woman who died after complications from surgical stapling. The lawsuit named Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s group practice doctors, and Covidien as the defendants. 

The woman, identified as April Strange, was a patient at the hospital. She underwent surgery to remove a noncancerous mass on her liver, which was performed using a surgical stapling.

Unfortunately, the surgery went wrong. There was “massive bleeding, cardiac arrest due to blood loss, and death the same day” because of the stapler’s ineffective wound closure. Her husband, Ryan Strange, filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the medical team that performed the surgery.

The lawsuit claimed that surgical stapling caused April’s death and that the hospital should have known better. The $5.5 million settlement was awarded as damages to the plaintiff. 

This is a tragic story, and it serves as a reminder that safety should always be your number one priority when it comes to medical procedures. However, if the worst should happen, an attorney can help you identify the liable parties and help you pursue damages. 

Potential Compensation for Surgical Stapler Injuries

The amount of compensation for surgical stapler injuries depends on the injury’s severity. However, higher settlements and verdicts have ranged from $5 million to $80 million. 

A victim of surgical stapler injury may pursue the following damages: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Funeral expenses 
  • Punitive damages 

The amount of compensation is determined by several factors, including the extent of harm, how long the stapler was in use before it became defective, and how long it took to discover that it was defective. 

Manufacturers may recall staplers if they are found to be defective. This allows them to provide replacements or repairs. In this way, manufacturers can keep more people safe and also avoid paying out large sums in settlements or going through lengthy court proceedings due to injuries resulting from using their products.

Questions Attorneys May Ask

There are some important questions that an attorney may want to ask during an investigation into a surgical stapling lawsuit. These questions may include:

How Did Your Surgical Stapler Malfunction?

One of the first things a lawyer might ask is whether or not the device actually malfunctioned. It’s important to establish that the device failed and was not operating properly. If the device did malfunction, then you may have a claim against the manufacturer or the hospital if the doctors failed to properly install or maintain the stapler.

Next, the lawyer may ask questions to determine why the injury occurred. Was it because of negligence or was there a design flaw? Was it because of some other factor like poor manufacturing? If you believe your stapler had a design flaw, then your attorney can advise you on how best to proceed with your case.

At What Point Did These Complications Occur?

An attorney might ask if you experienced any complications before or after surgery and how that impacted your overall health. For example, if you had a complication after your surgery, then it’s possible the medical device was responsible. 

What Were the Complications After the Process?

Once your lawyer has determined what happened during or after your surgery, he or she may want to know what post-op complications you experienced. They may ask, “Did anything happen within 24 hours of your procedure?” An attorney needs to understand exactly when complications occurred in order to evaluate whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Has the Defective Surgical Stapler Device Been Recalled?

If a surgical stapler device has injured you, you likely want compensation for your injuries. However, before you can even begin the process of filing a lawsuit, you should determine whether or not the defective surgical stapler device has been recalled.

A recall is a formal notice issued by a manufacturer or distributor of a product that there has been an issue with their product and it needs to be fixed. If a manufacturer has recalled a defective product, it means that there is a problem with the device, and it may not meet its intended purpose.

A recall can be issued for many reasons, including:

  • The device was defective upon its release into the market
  • The device was dangerous when used as intended
  • The company does not have adequate quality control procedures in place
  • The device is missing components
  • The device has misfiring issues 
  • The device has reload problems

The first step in determining whether or not your surgical stapler device has been recalled is to check with the manufacturer to see if they have issued any type of update. If they have, then you can look at the update for any information about how long it will take for them to repair or replace defective parts within the product line.

If there are no updates available from the manufacturer, then it means they have not received serious complaints about this particular defect in their products. If there is a recall, you will know that this specific defect has been reported by others who were affected by it, strengthening your grounds for filing a lawsuit. 

Consult a Surgical Stapler Lawsuit Attorney

Many people who suffer injuries from surgical stapling don’t realize that they could be entitled to compensation. The fact is, if you have been injured by a surgical stapler and suffered serious injuries, you may be able to file a lawsuit against one or more liable parties to recover money damages.

However, product liability lawsuits can be complicated and can take many years to resolve. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options. The lawyers in our networks can work hard on your behalf, pursuing your compensation as you rest and focus on healing from your injuries. 

Fill out our online contact form to schedule your initial consultation and let a lawyer evaluate your surgical stapling injury case.