Staten Island couple win $10 million in malpractice suit
A Staten Island woman and her husband were awarded a $10 million verdict Thursday after she underwent a botched hysterectomy that left her incontinent, in agony and unable to have sex.
Michele Nugent, 41, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after she left with a painful fistula — or an abnormal opening — that was leaking fluids from her bladder into her vagina following the procedure performed by gynecologist Eli Serur.
Nugent, of Tottenville, had the surgery on Oct. 4, 2018 at Richmond University Medical Center after having four children via c-section left her with excessive and painful bleeding.
But just a few days after the hysterectomy — in which the uterus is surgically removed — Nugent landed in the emergency room with what she described as the worst pain of her life, according to her affidavit.
She also experienced nausea, vomiting and leaking, the affidavit said.
However, the mom-of-four was told her symptoms were normal complications from the surgery and she would hear from the doctor.
Over the next 10 days, Nugent repeatedly called Serur’s office as her symptoms were worsening, including needing to wear adult diapers as she could no longer control her bladder. She was told to wait until her next follow-up appointment.
When Serur finally saw her on Oct. 17, 2018, he prescribed her medication for a urinary tract infection and told her that she should return to work the following week, according to her trial testimony.
Nugent — an account executive at deli meat company Boar’s Head — was at a meeting with 20 men that next Monday at the Brooklyn office when “out of nowhere, I urinated all over myself and had to leave,” she told the jury of the humiliating experience.
Nugent testified this happened despite the fact that she was wearing diapers and going to the bathroom hourly.
Soon after, Nugent saw a urologist and underwent a second surgery Nov. 12, 2018 to repair a hole in her bladder.
But despite the surgery, Nugent’s bladder will never be the same and she will have pain for the rest of her life, jurors heard at trial.
The mom still wakes up several times a night to go to the bathroom and she and her husband, Robert, are resigned to no longer having sex because of the pain and fear she feels.
The Nugents’ lawyer, Vito Cannavo, told The Post, “Ms. Nugent went through a horrific ordeal and she handled it with great dignity and strength.”
“We are gratified that the jury recognized what she went through and compensated her and husband accordingly.”
The jurors — four women and two men — found that Serur departed “from good and accepted medical practice” when he botched the surgery and then failed to identify the problem and repair it, according to a jury verdict sheet.
The jurors awarded Nugent $6.5 million for past and future suffering and another $3.5 million to her husband for the past and future loss of consortium — or intimacy — with his wife. The couple filed the suit in 2019.
The hospital was not a party at trial after the Nugents agreed to dismiss it from the case.
Serur’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.