Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sgro v. Ross

SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY


February 14, 2001

ANTONIO SGRO, M.D. AND ERMELINDA SGRO, HIS WIFE, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
V.
RICHARD S. ROSS, M.D., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Argued January 2, 2001

(NOTE: This Court wrote no full opinion in this case. Rather, the Court's affirmance of the judgment of the Appellate Division is based substantially on the reasons expressed in the Per Curiam opinion below.)

Dr. Antonio Sgro, a sixty-six-year-old, insulin-dependent diabetic, consulted Dr. Richard Ross, an ophthalmologist, about blurred vision in his right eye. Dr. Sgro suffered from cataracts in that eye. After consultation with Dr. Ross, Dr. Sgro opted to have a lens implant to correct the problem.

The lens implant surgery was initially successful. However, several days after surgery, Dr. Sgro began to experience swelling, wetness, and blurred vision in the eye. It was determined that a portion of Dr. Sgro's iris had prolapsed; the iris has pushed out through the incision made at the time of the cataract operation. Given the prolapse, the absence of any necrotic (unhealthy) tissue, the determination that the prolapse had occurred within twenty-four hours, and the absence of conjunctiva on the iris, Dr. Ross concluded that the prolapsed iris should be reposited back into the eye rather than excised. Excising the prolapsed section of the iris would have caused Dr. Sgro to suffer from light insensitivity, double vision and night glare.

Dr. Ross told Dr. Sgro that he was going to repair the prolapse but, as Dr. Sgro testified, Dr. Ross did not tell him how he was going to fix it. Both parties testified that Dr. Ross did not inform Dr. Sgro as to any alternative procedure for repairing the prolapse. In addition, Dr. Sgro testified that Dr. Ross did not tell him of any possible risks that might be involved. Dr. Ross testified that he did not inform Dr. Sgro about excision of the iris because it was not an option in his case.

Dr. Sgro experienced further problems with his right eye, resulting in his referral to Dr. Gary Brown of Wills Eye Hospital. After examination, Dr. Brown concluded that Dr. Sgro had fulminant endophthalmitis. Dr. Brown concluded that the bacteria causing the endophthalmitis was introduced into the eye at the time the iris prolapse was repaired. Dr. Sgro suffered permanent injury to the right eye.

Dr. Sgro brought suit against Dr. Ross, contending, among other things, that his consent to the repositing of the iris was not informed because Dr. Ross failed to inform him of the excision alternative. A jury found that the failure to inform Dr. Sgro of the excision alternative did not deprive him of informed consent.

Dr. Sgro appealed to the Appellate Division, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence on which the jury reached its verdict, and the adequacy of the trial court's jury instructions and interrogatories. The Appellate Division rejected those arguments in an unpublished opinion.

The Supreme Court granted Dr. Sgro's petition for certification.

HELD: Judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed in the Per Curiam opinion below. A sufficient factual basis existed to support the jury's verdict and there was no error in the trial court's instructions or interrogatories.

1. Several expert witnesses presented by the defense testified regarding the negative consequences of excision, and indicated that in the contest of this case, excision was not a medically reasonable alternative. The jury could reasonably have relied on that determination in finding that the excision alternative would not have been material information for a reasonably prudent patient in Dr. Sgro's position. (Pp. 2-3)

CHIEF JUSTICE PORITZ and JUSTICES STEIN, COLEMAN, LONG, VERNIERO, LAVECCHIA and ZAZZALI join in this PER CURIAM opinion.

On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

PER CURIAM

This is a medical malpractice informed consent case. Several days following a cataract operation performed by respondent Dr. Richard Ross ("Dr. Ross") on petitioner Dr. Antonio Sgro ("Sgro"), sutures in Sgro's eye became unraveled and a portion of his iris prolapsed from the eye. After discovering the complication, Dr. Ross reposited the iris and re-sutured the eye. Dr. Ross did not inform Sgro that he could have excised the exposed portion of the iris instead of repositing it. In the days following the reposition, Sgro's eye became infected, resulting in further surgeries and permanent injury.

Sgro brought suit, contending, inter alia, that his consent to the repositing of the iris was not informed because Dr. Ross failed to inform him of the excision alternative. A jury found that the failure to inform Sgro of the excision alternative did not deprive him of informed consent.

Sgro appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence on which the jury reached its verdict, and the adequacy of the trial court's jury instructions and interrogatories. The Appellate Division rejected those arguments in an unpublished opinion.

We have reviewed the record, and we find that a sufficient factual basis existed to support the jury's verdict. Several expert witnesses presented by Dr. Ross at trial testified respecting the negative consequences of excision, and indicated that in the context of Sgro's case excision was not a medically- reasonable alternative. The jury could have relied on that determination in finding that the excision alternative would not have been material information for a reasonably prudent patient in Sgro's position. Largey v. Rothman, 110 N.J. 204, 211-16 (1988); Matthies v. Mastromonaco, 160 N.J. 26, 34-38 (1999). We also find no error in the trial court's instructions or interrogatories. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division.

CHIEF JUSTICE PORITZ and JUSTICES STEIN, COLEMAN, LONG, VERNIERO, LaVECCHIA and ZAZZALI join in this opinion.

20010214

© 2001 VersusLaw Inc.



Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.