MADISON — A Tilden man and his wife have won a civil lawsuit against a Norfolk surgeon following a legal battle that began more than four years ago.
Dr. Thomas M. Beutler was ordered by a jury last week to pay the couple $3,765,473.91 in economic and non-economic damages for a gallbladder surgery he performed in May 2013 that didn’t turn out as hoped.
The Tilden man was 77 years old at the time of the procedure.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff said he had experienced a number of symptoms following his surgery, including pain, fevers and a non-functioning abscess drain.
Nonetheless, the plaintiff was discharged from Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk two days after his surgery. He stated in his lawsuit that he continued to experience symptoms for several days and was referred by Beutler to another doctor for additional evaluation and testing.
The plaintiff was readmitted to the hospital two days later, at which time it was found that his bile duct was completely clipped in one area. The suit said Beutler decided the injury needed “urgent repair” and transferred the plaintiff to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
At UNMC, the plaintiff received additional care and treatment, including additional operative procedures.
The plaintiff and his wife filed a lawsuit against Beutler, Norfolk Surgical Associates, Norfolk Medical Group and Faith Regional in February 2015.
The hospital and Norfolk Medical Group were dismissed as defendants in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
In his suit, the plaintiff argued that Beutler and Norfolk Surgical — whom Beutler worked for at the time — were negligent in failing to properly perform the surgery and to transfer him in a timely manner to another facility that could correct the complications.
As a result of the negligence, the plaintiff said he sustained damages including permanent injury to his bile duct, gallbladder and liver as well as scarring and permanent disability.
He also required additional hospitalizations and operative procedures.
Following many continuances and hearings over the past four years, a jury was brought in on Monday, April 8. The trial concluded later that week on Friday afternoon, and the jury deliberated only about two hours before returning with a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.