Ex dispatcher gets $9.1M in lawsuit over leg amputation

After a broken ankle led to 12 surgeries and the amputation of his leg, the NY man sued his doctors for medical malpractice

By James Staas
The Buffalo News

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — A jury has made a $9.1 million medical malpractice award to a former City of Tonawanda public safety dispatcher whose broken ankle almost 10 years ago led to complications and the eventual amputation of his leg.

The State Supreme Court jury awarded $2 million to Donald R. Schultz for past pain and suffering, $4 million for future pain and suffering and $2.8 million for past and future medical expenses and loss of wages. The jury also awarded his former wife $350,000 for loss of services.

The jury returned the verdict against Dr. Michael A. Parentis, who treated Schultz from 2005 to 2009, and the Knee Center of WNY, which has offices in Amherst and Orchard Park.

Schultz, now 45, sought treatment for a broken ankle in October 2004 after he fell on steps on his way to work as a City of Tonawanda public safety dispatcher.

Schultz first received treatment from a physician at Excelsior Orthopaedics, which has offices in Amherst, Orchard Park and Niagara Falls. The jury found no liability on the part of the physician or Excelsior Orthopaedics.

Schultz felt pain on the side of his foot near his little toe, evidence of an unusual nerve disorder, apparently caused by the ankle fracture, said Jeffrey A. Black of Olean, attorney for Schultz.

About a year after the injury, Schultz switched doctors, and Parentis started performing surgeries on his little toe, Black said. Parentis eventually amputated the toe, Black said.

Schultz developed an infection after the amputation, Black said. Parentis then amputated the fourth toe, but the pain continued, Black said.

In July 2009, Parentis amputated the leg below the knee, the attorney said.

Schultz developed another post-surgical infection, requiring amputation of the remaining leg above the knee, Black said. That surgery was performed in September 2009 by another doctor.

In all, Parentis performed 12 surgeries on his client, Black said.

Schultz filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors who treated him.

The jury delivered the verdict earlier this month before Justice John M. Curran in Buffalo, Black said. The trial lasted 15 days.

Schultz worked until the amputations in 2009, when he became disabled.

The loss of his leg has been devastating to Schultz, who lived in the City of Tonawanda with his wife and son at the time of the surgeries, Black said.

He said his client has since divorced and lives in Niagara Falls.

The lawyer for Parentis could not be reached to comment.

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