For Immediate Release $5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict for Failure of Surgical Staples

(Pittsburgh PA) A wrongful death case was brought on behalf of Daniel Selepec as a result of the death of his wife Sarah, a 40 year old mother, who passed away after she underwent gastric bypass surgery at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Suit was filed against Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, as manufacturer of an endocutter surgical stapler used in the surgery, on a product liability theory. The case was tried before Judge Robert P. Horgos, in the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
The plaintiff was represented by Alan H. Perer, senior partner at SPK, Pittsburgh.
Mrs. Selepec weighed over 300 pounds and suffered from back and knee pain, diabetes, depression and asthma. She underwent gastric bypass surgery in an effort to reduce her weight. The surgeon who performed the surgery used a endocutter surgical stapler made by Ethicon. The patient developed peritonitis post-operatively and died soon afterwards.
Perer argued that the gastric leak and resulting death occured as a result of the failure of the Ethicon staples to properly close and produce a secure suture.
The defendant Ethicon claimed the staples didn’t close because they were too small to cinch around Selepec’s stomach tissue, and that that surgeon should have used larger staples. It was unclear, however, how the doctor was supposed to make the determination of what size staple to use.
The case went to the jury, who after a short deliberation found for the plaintiff with an award of $5 million

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