Jury goes for defense in med mal trial against Maryville surgeon

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 12, 2008, 1:58am


A Madison County jury delivered a defense verdict June 5 in a medical malpractice complaint against Maryville doctor Charles Lane, M.D after deliberating just less than two hours.

Anna Raper sued Lane in December 2006, alleging he deviated from the standard of care by discharging her from St. Elizabeth Medical Center (now Gateway Regional) in Granite City with a bleeding spleen.

Lane, a general surgeon, operated on Raper Nov. 15, 2000, in a colo-vesical fistula procedure and discharged her from the hospital five days later on Nov. 20, 2000.

Raper alleged Lane failed to diagnose and treat her bleeding spleen and a development of splenic capsule hematoma, even though at the time she suffered increased pain and falling hematocrit levels.

She also alleged Lane discharged her before her hematocrit levels were stable.

Raper originally filed suit in 2002, against Lane and St. Elizabeth's, but settled with the hospital and voluntarily dismissed the claim against Lane. She re-filed the suit within one year of dismissing it.

Raper alleged that once she was at home she suffered cardiac arrest and loss of blood which led to hemorrhagic shock, multi-system organ failure and an increased risk of developing incisional hernia which caused pain and suffering, severe emotional distress, lost wages and loss of a normal life.

Lane denied the allegations and claimed Raper went into septic shock which caused her heart attack and that the paramedics who performed CPR for nearly 20 minutes damaged her spleen.

Lane also argued the spleen was not even in the area where he operated, and therefore he could not have damaged it.

Raper, represented by Bill Walker of Granite City, filed a motion in limine asking Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder to exclude any expert witnesses who thought the paramedics caused spleen damage.

Crowder denied the motion. She presided over trial in place of Circuit Judge Dan Stack.

Crowder also denied Raper's motion in limine seeking to suppress the testimony of two surgical experts. Raper argued that the testimony would be repetitive and an improper use of trial time.

Crowder also denied another motion in limine filed by Raper that sought to exclude references to a Soviet article on spleen pathology and opinions on the precise date of the spleen damage.

Raper argued that one of Lane's witnesses, Dr. Bolesta, would offer an opinion that he could time the damage to her spleen by looking at pathology slides.

Raper unsuccessfully argued that since Dr. Bolesta's basis for his opinion comes from a 1991 Soviet-era article authored in Russian Cyrillic, it should be banned.

Crowder granted Lane's motion in limine which had sought to ban all references to Raper receiving Social Security disability benefits.

She also granted defense motions in limine seeking to suppress any statement that Raper was unable to work, any other lawsuits Lane may or may not have been named as a defendant in, any evidence that Raper called Lane's office the day of her heart attack and spoke to a nurse who allegedly laughed at her and any reference alleging Raper was not eligible for unemployment compensation due to her condition.

Lane was represented by Kenneth Burke and Beth Kamp Veath of Brown & James in Belleville.

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