NORMAN — An attorney for a Norman doctor who lost a malpractice case says he and his client are considering an appeal of a jury verdict that awarded $2.5 million to the family of a woman who died after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.
A Cleveland County jury returned the verdict Friday in favor of Anthony Smith, on behalf of the heirs of Donna Smith, and against Lana Nelson, M.D.
Attorney Spencer Housley, who represented the plaintiff, said the verdict “in essence, vindicated Donna Smith, who didn't get the care she should have. The family had to come in and deal with old wounds during the trial. It was very hard on them. Obviously, they are pleased with the jury's decision.”
Housley said the woman died of uncontrolled bleeding that went undetected after the surgery.
Jeff Glendening, who represented Nelson, said he was “stunned” by the verdict and disagrees that any malpractice occurred.
Smith, 50, died of underlying health problems that made the surgery risky, Glendening said.
Smith previously had suffered a stroke that partially immobilized her and caused her to gain an excessive amount of weight that she couldn't lose by conventional methods, Glendening said. The woman weighed more than 300 pounds and had diabetes when she elected to have the gastric bypass surgery, he said.
“She knew it was risky. She went into the surgery knowing it had risks,” Glendening said. “Our hearts go out to the family, but we absolutely don't think our client did anything wrong.”
Glendening said he thinks sympathy for the family may have influenced the decision. While the lawsuit was pending, Smith's husband was killed in an accident caused by a drunken driver, and the woman's daughter died a few months ago for reasons not explained in the trial.
Housley disagreed and said evidence in the trial supported the jury's decision.
“Things were not done that should have been done, and she bled to death,” he said.
Special Judge Michael Tupper presided over the weeklong trial.