St. Clair County jury awards man more than $5 million over misdiagnosed lumbar fracture resulted in fusion surgery

A St. Clair County jury awarded plaintiff Dimitrios Zavradinos more than $5.15 million after a lumbar fracture went unnoticed, resulting in permanent injuries requiring a spinal fusion.

Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf presided over the trial, which ended on Jan. 18 when jurors awarded the plaintiff a total of $5,151,000 for loss of a normal life, pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses and lost earnings.

Zavradinos was represented at trial by Tom Keefe III, Tom Keefe Jr. and Samantha Unsell of Keefe Keefe & Unsell.

Memorial Hospital-East was represented at trial by Kris Mack and Mike Nester of Donovan Rose Nester.

Dr. Michael Jennewein and his group, Clinical Radiologists S.C., were represented by Jim Neville and Matt Zittel of Neville Richards Zittel & Siegel LLC.

Tom Keefe III explained that Jennewein, who specializes in radiology, allegedly misread a lumbar x-ray on June 24, 2016, after Zavradinos fell from a ladder. The plaintiff was 62 years old at the time of the incident. The x-ray showed a compression fracture at L-4, but Jennewein allegedly failed to convey the possibility of a fracture in his report and failed to order or recommend additional imaging.

Jannewein allegedly mistakenly diagnosed the fracture as a benign deformity where the top of top or bottom of vertebrae becomes indented, which is also known as a “Schmori’s node.”

As a result of the misdiagnosis, Zavradinos returned to work as a forensic engineer, which included hauling ladders and getting down in crawl spaces. He also underwent physical therapy, which required him to complete bending and twisting motions.

The extra movement at work at physical therapy allegedly caused the compression fracture to collapse. The injury was revealed in an MRI taken on Aug. 23, 2016.

Zavradinos underwent fusion surgery from L-3 to L-5 in an attempt to treat his injury, but Keefe said he was never able to return to work, walks with a cane and may have to undergo significant surgeries in the future.

Keefe added that Jennewein admitted that the x-ray showed a fracture during his testimony, but he insisted that the mistake was reasonable.

In their affirmative defenses, the defendants argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were the result of negligent conduct of parties other than the defendants. They also argued that Zavradinos failed to mitigate his damages.

Further, they argued that the plaintiff contributed to his alleged injuries, which were the result of his own negligence.

This article was first published in Madison Record.

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