On May 17, 2016, a Tarrant County jury in the 348th District Court returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Jason Tinley, M.D., rejecting plaintiffs’ claim seeking $4.35Million in damages from Dr. Tinley. Shareholders Dick Wiles and Kevin Keith teamed together to represent Dr. Tinley, a spine fellowship trained, board certified orthopedic surgeon in Fort Worth. Dr. Tinley performed a two level anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion (ACDF) operation on Derek Hoelscher. Approximately four days later, Hoelscher developed an extremely rare complication of cervical spine surgery, an anterior cervical epidural hematoma, which compressed and put pressure on his spinal cord, resulting in permanent neurological injuries to Hoelscher. Upon learning of Hoelscher’s symptoms, Dr. Tinley ordered the appropriate testing and diagnosed the epidural hematoma, and then set in motion all of the steps necessary to perform emergency surgery to decompress the spinal cord. Hoelscher’s expert witness, a neurosurgeon from UT Southwestern in Dallas, acknowledged that Dr. Tinley did not cause the epidural hematoma, but he contended that Dr. Tinley took too long to get Hoelscher to the operating room to evacuate the hematoma. Wiles and Keith presented documentary and testimonial evidence that confirmed that Hoelscher was taken to surgery as rapidly as it could have been accomplished. In addition to Dr. Tinley’s testimony, the defense presented expert testimony from Dr. Nicholas Ahn, a professor of orthopedic surgery and expert on epidural hematomas from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and Dr. James Stanley, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Dallas, both of whom testified that Dr. Tinley met the standard of care, was not negligent and did not cause Hoelscher’s neurological injuries. Wiles and Keith challenged the credibility of the plaintiffs’ testimony. Surveillance videos of Hoelscher, procured by the defense team during the discovery process, disputed plaintiffs’ testimony and convinced the jury that Hoelscher and his wife were exaggerating the extent of his injuries. The jury rejected the argument that Dr. Tinley was responsible for his injuries and that they should award $4.35Million in damages. The judge presiding over the trial reportedly told other district judges in Tarrant County that this was the most professional trial that she had ever seen.
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