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New York County

This medical malpractice case originated against Central Park West Medical Center and the treating acupuncturist. However, Central Park West was dismissed, as the plaintiff mistakenly thought that the defendant acupuncturist was affiliated with the Medical Center. The defendant was, in fact, a sole practitioner working in Manhattan and not affiliated with Central Park West Medical Center. The trial continued against the defendant acupuncturist only.

The male plaintiff contended that he presented to the defendant in order to alleviate pain he was experiencing in his back from a work-related injury. The plaintiff claimed that the acupuncturist explained that he would be administering what is called electromagnetic heat therapy to aid in relieving the back pain. The plaintiff was informed that this electromagnetic heat lamp is commonly implemented in the treatment of muscular pain, soft tissue injury, arthritis and skin conditions, that it is similar to a heating pad and provides healing properties. Furthermore, the plaintiff contended that was informed that this therapy promotes absorption of the healing elements, promoting the metabolism, regulating physiological deficiencies, diminishes inflammation, enhances immunity, and eases pain.

The plaintiff maintained that the defendant acupuncturist turned on the heat lamp device on, while he was lying face down. Shortly after the treatment began, the plaintiff claimed that he began to feel the skin on his back burning. The plaintiff maintained that he then screamed out to the defendant. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the defendant’s failure to supervise his treatment, he sustained first and second degree burns to his back, which ultimately required surgery and resulted in permanent residual scarring. The defendant conceded to liability and offered to pay the plaintiff his policy limit of one million dollars. In addition, while the defendant acupuncturist conceded liability to the plaintiff’s counsel, he concurrently brought a third-party products claim against the distributor of the heat lamp, CAI Industries. The trial proceeded on damages, as a unified trial.

On October 6, ________ the male plaintiff, who was in his early 50’s, presented to the defendant acupuncturist for a consultation and initial treatment. The plaintiff testified that he sustained a work related back injury, and was advised to seek treatment from an acupuncturist to assist him in eliminating or relieving some of his pain. During the course of the heat therapy, the doctor allegedly left the room, leaving the plaintiff unattended. The plaintiff alleged that while the acupuncturist was out of the room, the heat lamp had lowered by itself, causing the plaintiff to feel an extreme burning sensation. The plaintiff maintained that he yelled out for the acupuncturist, and they came in to find that the heat lamp had somehow lowered itself, causing the plaintiff’s skin on his back, to burn. The plaintiff made a demand of $________ pain and suffering. The defense made a pre-trial offer of $________ and increased the offer prior to deliberations to $________, which was subsequently rejected.

The evidence revealed that the plaintiff was immediately transported to The Meadowlands Medical Centers’ emergency room, where he was diagnosed with second and third degree burns on his back, resulting in 5cm round scar. The plaintiff was admitted and underwent a debridement procedure the same day.

The plaintiff’s treating plastic and reconstructive surgeon testified as to the post-surgical treatment that he provided to the plaintiff. The surgeon maintained that the scarring was permanent, however, he administered Kinnelog Injections in attempts to correct, and/or reduce the scarring. He remained that while the injections helped reduce the appearance of the scarring on the plaintiff’s back, the remaining scars was permanent in nature. The expert opined that there was a 50/50 chance as to weather or not the injections would become necessary in the future. The third party plaintiffs, CAI Industries, who were named as the distributors of the heat lamp, denied that they were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The distributors introduced an expert engineer who testified that there was nothing wrong with the heat lamp, and opined that he defendant acupuncturist, improperly positioned the lamp, thus causing the burns to the plaintiff’s back.

The defendants called an expert engineer, who testified, that upon his inspection of the subject electromagnetic heat lamp, the hardware that supports the lamps head, was defective, causing it to lower. The expert opined that the plaintiff’s burn injuries were consistent to that of a burn from the subject heat lamp.

Trial lasted one week with deliberations lasting approximately two hours. The jury found that the defendant Dr. Lei was 35% responsible, and found the 3rd party defendants CIA Industries 65% liable. The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $________. The defendants filed a post-trial motion to reduce the verdict, and the third party plaintiff’s brought forth a motion to reduce the verdict and/or to dismiss he product case against them.

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