On Oct. 25, 2007, David Moncrief underwent surgery at Chester County Hospital to remove a cyst from his left maxillary sinus. Moncrief was hoping the operation would relieve his migraine headaches.
But after the surgery, the headaches remained, and Moncrief had some new problems — strabismus and double vision. During the surgery, Dr. Joseph L. Smith “traumatically penetrated the orbital bone surrounding Mr. Moncrief’s right eyeball,” according to a complaint filed by Jim Beasley Jr. in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.
“It’s been a nightmare,” said Moncrief, a 45-year-old graphic designer from Coatesville, who has struggled with vision problems since the operation.
“When looking straight ahead, Mr. Moncrief’s right eye deviates as much as 45 degrees in a different direction than his left eye,” the complaint states. “When Mr. Moncrief moves his eyes, his right eye does not follow the motion of the left eye. As a result of the unnecessary trauma to Mr. Moncrief’s orbital bones and rectus muscle, he has been left with a permanent double vision and strabismus.”
“Multiple procedures and consultations have provided a poor prognosis for Mr. Moncrief to ever regain functional use of his right eye,” the complaint states. “(And) Mr. Moncrief still suffers from the headaches that brought him to the defendants.”
Moncrief’s case went to trial earlier this month in Chester County Common Pleas Court, a notoriously tough place to try a medical malpractice case. “We had the odds stacked against us,” Moncrief recalled.
In Chester County Common Pleas Court, a total of 26 medical malpractice went to trial from 2006 to 2009, and only once did the plaintiffwin the case.
But after a four-day trial, a jury awarded Moncrief $800,000.
“I just lost it,” Moncrief said. “I started crying. It was just an emotional thing. . . You really take your vision for granted.”
“The defense lawyer was upset,” Moncrief said, so he asked the judge to poll the jury. The verdict was unanimous with all 12 jurors. Eventhe alternate juror, who had stuck around after the case, raised his hand to show he agreed withthe verdict.
The jury award came at the right time for Moncrief, who said his diminished capabilities as a graphic artist led to a dramatic reduction in income, and forced Moncrief to spend every cent in his 401K.
Moncrief said the trial was an ordeal. “It’s really like nothing else you’ve ever experienced,” he said. “It’s nerve-racking. It’s emotional. You don’t know what the outcome could be.”
To prepare for the case, Jim Beasley obtained the bestexpert witnesses. He also spent many hours with David Moncrief and his wife Dona, in the Firm’s own mock courtroom, on the top floor of theBeasley Building. The mock courtroom is an integral part of the firm’s pre-trial prep. Beasley spent hours subjecting the Moncriefs to mock cross examination to get them ready for their first appearance in a real courtroom.
David Moncrief said that the detailed trial prep was helpful, because being in a courtroom is such a foreign experience for the average person.
“The guy that did this to you is sitting right in front of you,”Moncrief said. The seasoned defense lawyer, hired by the insurance company, was so good “there where times when even I was starting to believe him.”
But “the jurors liked Jim, and could relate to himbetter than the other guy,” Moncrief said. And when Dr. Smith took thestand, “you could see he was squirming . . . Jim would just get up there and destroy him.”
As with many of the people represented by the Beasley Firm, Moncrief was referred to The Beasley Firm by another lawyer, because of the firm’s expertise intrying cases. The lawyer who referred David Moncrief to Jim BeasleyJr., described the victory as “a huge jury verdict” in Chester County.”Great job,” was how he congratulated Jim Beasley Jr. in an email.
“With today’s economy, it’s a tough time to be a medicalmalpractice plaintiff,” said Jim Beasley Jr.”The Moncrief’s are good people and have reallysuffered as a result of this surgery, but these days that’s notenough. You need a Firm that’s willing to put its resources andexpertise on the line for you and fight until the very end. That’swhat we did for the Moncriefs, and that’s what we do for all ourclients.”