TMJ Injury Results inSubstantial Pain and Suffering Award
By John Hochfelder on May 23, 2012 Posted in Facial InjuriesOn April 20, 2004, Caridad Cuevas underwent surgical removal of astone from her salivary gland. Afterwards, she was left with asevere temporomandibular joint (TMJ) injury.Ms. Cuevas, a 21 year old medical assistant, contended that herTMJ injury was the result of her jaw being hyperextended by theanesthesiologist when administering general anesthesia viaendotracheal intubation:Ms. Cuevas brought a successful lawsuit against the doctor andthe hospital and a Manhattan jury awarded pain and sufferingdamages in the sum of $1,250,000 ($250,000 past – six years;$1,000,000 future – 55 years).The defense successfully argued that the award was excessive andthe trial judge agreed that the award should be reduced to$750,000 ($250,000 past, $500,000 future).
The hospital appealed both the liability verdict and the damagesaward, even as reduced. Now, in Cuevas v. St. Luke’s RooseveltHosp. Ctr. (1st Dept. 2012), the appellate court has affirmed onall counts and the pain and suffering award stands at $750,000. As set forth in the appellate court decision, due to the TMJinjury Ms. Cuevas had to wear a mouth guard at all times (causinga lisp) and she could not:•open her mouth more than 15 milliliters without pain•eat without pain or cutting her food into very small pieces•kiss her husband normally
What was not mentioned in the decision is the fact that plaintiffsuffered from pre-existing multiple sclerosis (an autoimmunedisease that affects the brain and spinal cord) and as a resultshe was not a candidate for any surgery to correct her TMJ injuryand could not take anti-inflammatory medication.Inside Information:•The loss of consortium and services verdict for plaintiff’shusband in the sum of $250,000 ($50,000 past, $200,000 future)was reduced to $150,000 (50,000 past, $100,000 future). Thisaspect of the verdict included consideration of the fact that themarried couple could not kiss normally.•The defense contended that plaintiff’s multiple sclerosis showeda pre-disposition for a TMJ injury.•The hospital had sought summary judgment dismissing the complaintbefore trial claiming that it could not be held liable for thenegligence of an anesthesiologist who was an independentcontractor not employed by the hospital. The motion was denied.
POSTED BY ATTORNEY RENE G. GARCIA:For more information:- Some of our clients have suffered thiskind of injuries due to a serious accident. The Garcia LawFirm, P.C. was able to successfully handle these types of cases.For a free consultation please call us at 1-866- SCAFFOLD or 212-725-1313.http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com/page/3/