Woman who loses most of the range of motion in her knee also loses malpractice action
Elizabeth Glaza sued Gary D. Gilyard, M.D., after she suffered a very poor outcome from knee surgery. Glaza suffered a knee injury at work in 2004, and Gilyard initially recommended a minimally invasive arthroscopy. Once under anesthesia, however, he actually performed an osteotomy--fracturing the tibia, shifting its position and re-attaching the fracture site with screws. After the surgery, Glaza enountered several problems and complications related to an overdose of narcotics in the Emergency Room and other developments. Ultimately, she lost most of the motion in her knee. She sued and presented testimony from another orthopaedic surgeon to support her claim that the doctor had exceeded the informed consent for surgery and mis-managed Glaza's care.The jury disagreed with Glaza's expert and its verdict was in favor of the doctor. Glaza appealed, arguing that the jury was improperly swayed by the testimony of her workers compensation case manager who had testified based on treatment notes that she had refused to provide to Glaza's lawyers. The reviewing court criticized Glaza's attorney for failing to follow-up on the subpoenaed records and for failing to articulate how cross-examination would have been aided by access to the case manager's records.
The Court also rejected Glaza's claim that the case manager's report should not have been admitted because it was prepared specifically to defend Glaza's comp claim and therefore lacked the inherent trustworthiness of a true medical record. Even though the case manager was, in fact, hired and paid by the workers comp insurer to defend Glaza's claim, the Court of Appeals refused to apply pre-existing law that would have prevented the admission of her report as a medical record. The Court also rejected Glaza's argument that the case manager exceeded her expertise when she testified that in 20 years she had never seen an osteotomy patient suffer loosened screws as a result of the use of a passive range of motion machine.
Lastly, the Court refused to overturn the verdict as a result of the trial court's mistaken admission of a surveillance tape of plaintiff that was not disclosed properly to Glaza's attorneys and did not actually contradict her testimony. The panel of judges concluded that the tape likely did not influence the jury's decision.