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Nason v. Pruchnic

Supreme Court of Maine

March 12, 2019

ROBBIE M. NASON
v.
TIMOTHY PRUCHNIC et al.

          Argued: October 11, 2018

          Ernest J. Babcock, Esq. (orally), Adria Y. LaRose, Esq., and Janna Gau, Esq., Eaton Peabody, Bangor, for appellants Timothy Pruchnic and Eastern Maine Medical Center

          Jodi L. Nofsinger, Esq. (orally), and Taylor A. Asen, Esq., Berman & Simmons, P.A., Lewiston, for appellee Robbie M. Nason

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Timothy Pruchnic, M.D., and Eastern Maine Medical Center (collectively, excepted where indicated otherwise, Pruchnic) appeal from a judgment entered after a jury trial in the Superior Court (Penobscot County, A. Murray, J.) in favor of Robbie M. Nason on his claim for medical malpractice against Pruchnic. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts, including all justifiable inferences, are drawn from the trial record as viewed in the light most favorable to the jury verdict. See Hansen v. Sunday River Skiway Corp., 1999 ME 45, Tj 5, 726 A.2d 220.

         [¶3] In July 2013, Nason fractured the scaphoid bone of his right wrist while working. Nason was referred to Pruchnic, a hand surgeon employed at Eastern Maine Medical Center, who determined that surgical intervention was required for proper healing. Pruchnic performed a surgical implantation of a compression screw in Nason's scaphoid bone in September 2013.

         [¶4] Throughout the next few months, Pruchnic completed several imaging studies on Nason's wrist, but failed to discover any potential problems. Believing Nason's wrist to be healing properly, Pruchnic had Nason begin physical therapy, where he experienced pain and a distinct clicking feeling in his wrist. Eventually, Pruchnic realized that the screw he had placed in Nason's wrist was protruding from the scaphoid bone and into the surrounding cartilage.

         [¶5] Due to Nason's extended absence from work, his workers' compensation agent scheduled him to be examined by another surgeon. Upon examining Nason, the surgeon immediately recognized that the screw was protruding from Nason's scaphoid bone and performed surgery to remove the screw, during which the surgeon observed extensive damage to the cartilage of Nason's right wrist. The surgeon performed a second surgery in an attempt to clean up as much damage as possible. Despite these efforts, Nason continued to experience pain in his right wrist, and several injections proved ineffective. Ultimately, the surgeon completed a third surgery on Nason, removing his scaphoid bone along with two other bones.

         [¶6] Nason brought an action against Pruchnic and Eastern Maine Medical Center, alleging negligence in Pruchnic's attempted surgical repair of his scaphoid bone, leaving him with permanent pain and impairment of his wrist. The jury unanimously found Pruchnic and Eastern Maine Medical Center negligent and awarded damages of $2, 000, 000.[1] Pruchnic moved for a new trial, or in the alternative, remittitur, on the ground that the jury verdict was excessive. The Superior Court denied Pruchnic's motion. This appeal followed.

         II. DISCUSSION

         [¶7] Pruchnic argues that he was entitled to a new trial, or in the alternative, remittitur, on the ground that the jury awarded excessive damages. Pruchnic also argues that the trial court erred by giving a jury instruction pursuant to Lovely v. Allstate Ins. Co.,658 A.2d 1091 (Me. 1995), admitting only redacted portions of ...


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