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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Depositions start now. (medical malpractice con't.)

Of course I am only writing about the more interesting anecdotes. Lots went on in-between but that is the boring minutiae of most lawsuits.

It was time for depositions.

I scheduled Dr. Jannetta's for the afternoon. Dr. Jannetta, opposing counsel and I, and a stenographer, were there.

Dr. Jannetta had no trouble hiding his disdain - for me and the proceedings, but he did answer the questions.

I asked him to draw illustrations of the surgical area, marking and describing what he had found. I would later compare them with pictures his resident would be asked to draw.

He said he operated on me. He described what was found on operation. I asked "What were the risks of MVD or 'Jannetta Procedure' of which you advised me before the operation?" He replied immediately, "Facial paralysis is a major and common complication of which I invariable inform my patients."

It was hard for me to keep a straight face. That was not what he told me, or my mother, or my father. That was not what his resident told me when he was asked.

We had been at this for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. I started to ask a follow up question when Dr. Jannetta stood up. He looked at his watch and announced "It's 3:30. I have to leave."

I was astounded. There had been no set time parameters. This was an official legal proceeding. The subject of it was not the one who determined when it would end.

"Dr. Jannetta, I am not finished." "I'm leaving now." The last sentence in the official stenographic transcript was the voice of Dr. Jannetta's lawyer.

"Dr. Jannetta...," But his voice was not heard. Dr. Jannetta had left the room.

I would have preferred had he stayed. I did not have much more to ask. It would have been over and done, and he would not have been required to come back and sit for a second deposition.

The most important part of the second deposition was the question, asked again, "What did you tell me were the risks of MVD?"

His answer remained the same. "Facial paralysis is a major and common complication of which I invariably inform my patients."

His recollection and mine were diametrically opposed. He had told me "I promise you your face cannot be injured."

Forget the claims of malpractice and negligence. The stage was set. The jury, the triers of fact, would be the ones to decide; who is telling the truth? The next deposition, with his resident, would help illuminate the answer.

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