Intuitive Surgical Inc., a medical robotics company, reached a last-minute settlement last month in the trial over a woman’s serious internal injuries arising from a robot-assisted hysterectomy. Jurors were in their third day of deliberations when the case was settled. The value and terms of the settlement are confidential. “In this case, I think a very good thing has happened: The parties have reached an out-of-court settlement,” Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce told jurors before dismissing them.
Jurors, who had been deliberating in the case for two days, heard some disturbing facts about what happened to the Plaintiff, Michelle Zarick. She had undergone the surgery and her injuries became apparent about five weeks after the surgery. The “da Vinci” robot was used in the surgery.
After Mrs. Zarick had engaged in sexual intercourse with her husband, she sat on the toilet and her bowels literally fell out of her body through a tear in the wall of her vagina. The damages sought included more than $43,000 in medical expenses, $5 million to $10 million in past pain and suffering, and $10 million to $20 million for future pain and suffering. The Plaintiff’s lawyer had asked for $30 million in closing argument.
Mrs. Zarick underwent her surgery in February 2009. She alleged that the gynecologist who performed her surgery did not receive “adequate training” in using the da Vinci system. Mrs. Zarick began feeling sick five weeks after the surgery. Before her husband, a member of the military, was to ship off for combat training at the time, the couple engaged in intercourse. Afterward, Mrs. Zarick bled and she called her doctor who assured her it was fine, but said to go to the hospital if the situation got worse. When Mrs. Zarick used the restroom, the evisceration occurred, and she was rushed to the hospital where she had to undergo a painful, invasive surgery. Mrs. Zarick was found to have suffered internal burn injuries from the device. She and her husband filed suit in December 2012.
The Plaintiffs in this case are represented by Francois Blaudeau of Southern Med Law, who did a very good job for them. The case was in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara.