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$875,000 Settlement for Loss of Airway/Vocal Cord Paralysis

William Crutchlow of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow with offices in Edison, Red Bank and Toms River, New Jersey settled a case arising from bilateral vocal cord paralysis that developed following an airway emergency encountered during cervical spine surgery. Our client was a man in his late 40’s who agreed to undergo surgery on his cervical spine to address disc herniations and related disease. Shortly after the start of the operation, the endotracheal tube used in the administration of anesthesia unexpectedly became dislodged. The anesthesiologist was unable to get the tube reinserted and, after numerous unsuccessful and traumatic attempts at reintubation, was forced to declare an airway emergency. A tracheostomy (breathing tube at the vase of the throat) was created to allow the patient to breath. Subsequent efforts to close and reverse the tracheostomy were unsuccessful as the patient was not able to breath sufficiently without the apparatus in place. It was determined that the vocal cords had been permanently injured and were paralyzed which obstructed the ability to breath. We asserted that the cause of these injuries was the negligent failure of the anesthesiologist to maintain the patient’s airway during surgery and the trauma of the many attempts at reinserting the endotracheal tube and the tracheostomy procedure. The tracheostomy is likely permanent. This case settled for $875,000 shortly before trial. Further details of this settlement are controlled by a Confidentiality Agreement.