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Newsletter – Spring 2013


Casey & Devoti

The Five Myths of Medical Malpractice

Advocates of so-called “tort reform” are at it again. Besides the usual filing of legislation in the Missouri legislature, advocates have taken to the newspaper, writing “letters to the editor” demanding more legislation to deal with the “problem” of injured people using the judicial system to address harms and losses caused to them and members of their families by negligent physicians, nurses and health care providers.

According to them, physicians are fleeing Missouri to practice in states with atmospheres that protect them from litigation resulting from medical errors.

But, as John Adams reminded Boston jurors nearly 250 years ago while defending the British soldiers who participated in the Boston Massacre, “Facts are hard things.”

Two researchers recently published the results of their study of the “hard facts” about medical malpractice in the January 2013 issue of CHEST, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. Titled “The Five Myths of Medical Malpractice,” the study identifies five famous myths and then debunks them with real facts. The five myths debunked by Dr. David Hyman and Charles Silver in the study are:

(1) malpractice crises are caused by spikes in medical malpractice litigation (sudden rises in payouts and claim frequency); (2) the tort system delivers “jackpot justice”; (3) physicians are one malpractice verdict away from bankruptcy; (4) physicians move to states that adopt damage caps; and (5) tort reform will lower healthcare spending dramatically.

The last paragraph of the study reports that mandated caps on medical malpractice damages “do little to improve the malpractice system…they do not make health care safer, reduce health care spending, compensate those who are negligently injured, or make the liability system work better.” Hyman and Silver conclude by stating that the best reforms in medicine are, “patient safety initiatives that reduce the frequency and severity of medical mistakes.”

As an aside, it must be noted that doctors are not fleeing Missouri. In fact, Missouri doctors have steadily increased over the past four decades (in both actual numbers and relative to the population). That fact is indisputable, according to both the American Medical Association’s authoritative annual compendium as well as annual statistics compiled by and published by the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Injured patients who bring a lawsuit against their physician or hospital (and the lawyers that represent them) are held to strict proof by the courts and the juries that hear their claims. They should be. And the advocates of “tort reform” must be held to strict proof, too.

After all, “Facts are hard things.”

About Our Firm


Casey & Devoti has been handling complex personal injury, automobile accident, and commercial cases since 1983. Our firm is dedicated to providing both individuals and small companies with first class, personal, professional, and aggressive legal representation. Our lawyers have extensive trial experience and over the years have tried a range of cases, including automobile accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, premises liability and commercial disputes.

To set up a free consultation, please call 314-421-0763 or send us an email.

Trending Topics

Infuse & Bone Morphogenic Protein

Casey & Devoti is now investigating cases involving injuries resulting from the use of Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) sold under the trade name of Infuse, a product used by surgeons in connections with cages used during spinal fusion procedures. BMP was mixed with bone and packed into the cages; its purpose was to stimulate bone growth with the hope of increasing the likelihood of the fusion’s success. Surgeons began using BMP is St. Louis in late 2004.

Infuse worked too well. In fact, issues arose with excessive bone growth when the cages were placed in the posterior spine. In the worst cases, the excessive bone encapsulated nerves leading to the patient’s buttock, legs and feet, leading to neurological issues such as radiating pain into one leg or the other or numbness, loss of sensation or tingling in a foot.

In the typical case, the patient experienced immediate relief of his or her pre-operative problems following surgery only to have the symptoms return six or so months later due to the excessive bone growth. In many cases, the symptoms experienced by the patient are now worse than they were prior to their fusion surgery.

Did you have spinal fusion surgery and the problems that you are experiencing today are worse than they were before your operation? Did your surgeon use BMP? The surest way to verify the use of Infuse is to look at the operative report made by your surgeon following your surgery. If the operative report identifies the use of Infuse or BMP and you experienced worsening symptoms, then it will necessary to review any CT scans taken after the surgery to verify the presence of excessive bone growth.

Please call us if you believe that your surgeon used Infuse during your spinal fusion surgery or your problems today are worse than they were before your operation. We also remain willing to speak with any family member or friend you believe was injured following the use of BMP during back surgery.

Latest News

Mid-Missouri Client Settles Case Against Rural School District

A young man represented by Casey & Devoti recently settled his personal injury case for 15 times the amount of money offered by the insurance company prior to the firm’s involvement.

The student suffered an injury while participating in an after-school activity. He and a classmate were moving materials with a trailer attached to a self-propelled garden tractor when the young man fractured his arm. He fractured his arm when the trailer’s latch failed as he leaned against the trailer, causing him to directly fall onto his elbow. Surgery was required and, due to the efforts of his Columbia-based surgeon, the young man made a terrific recovery.

An investigation revealed that school officials knew of problems with the latch prior to the incident, but failed to either fix the latch or take the trailer out of service until the latch could be repaired. The firm also emphasized the issues that the student will now encounter pursuing his dream to serve in the U.S. Army following graduation due to his operated arm and the presence of hardware in his body.

Matt Devoti handled the student’s claim against the school district. This case is the latest of multiple cases successfully handled by Casey & Devoti in mid-Missouri.

In the last three years, firm clients have obtained judgments of $1 million and $700,000 in Pulaski County, received a permanent total award in a Workers’ Compensation claim following a workplace injury at Fort Leonard Wood, and settled motor vehicle collision cases for $600,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Client Victorious in Employment Discrimination Claim

A client represented by Casey & Devoti received a favorable verdict in her employment discrimination case in late December. The woman worked as a limited-term utility worker for the City of St. Louis in 2009. She alleged that she was subjected to unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances during that summer by her direct supervisor. She made a formal claim with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights at the term’s end. The City then passed over her for rehire for the 2010 term despite positive reviews and her prior experience.

Matt Devoti tried the case before Judge Robin Vannoy in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. At the end of a seven-day trial, a jury of St. Louis residents found against the City on the client’s retaliation claim and found the City to be liable for punitive damage. The verdict nearly quadrupled the amount offered by the City to settle the woman’s claim prior to the start of the jury trial.

Just last month, the trial court awarded the firm attorneys’ fees incurred in the prosecution of the case and ordered the City to reimburse the firm’s client for certain expenses incurred during the case’s prosecution.

For Your Information

Casey & Devoti Supports Local Organizations

Casey & Devoti recently agreed to sponsor “The Wine Opener” event, hosted by the St. Louis chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The fund-raising event will include tasting stations that feature wines from both international and domestic wineries as well as food prepared by local chefs. This year’s event will be in the City Hall rotunda in downtown St. Louis on Sept. 21. The Gateway Chapter hopes to have more than 300 people attend its 11th annual “Wine Opener” this year.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting children and young adults. A defective gene causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucous. This abnormal mucous leads to chronic and fatal lung infections and impairs digestion. Currently, there is no cure for the 30,000 people afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis in the United States.

Interested in attending “The Wine Opener” or learning more about Cystic Fibrosis? You may contact the national organization at or reach out to the local chapter at and (314) 733-1241. Please also feel free to call Matt Devoti for directions on how to purchase tickets to the event.

In related news, Casey & Devoti also recently agreed to underwrite the efforts of a local women’s shelter care program to update its website. The firm is working with Claris Law in an effort to help the shelter — St. Martha’s Hall — strengthen its Internet presence.

St. Martha’s Hall is coordinating with Claris Law to modernize its website, including the engineering of the site to permit the posting of up-to-date information to educate and inform the shelter’s benefactors and supporters throughout the community about the presence of domestic violence in our community as well as opportunities to financially assist the program.

St. Martha’s Hall is a not-for-profit agency that provides a shelter care program for abused women and their children. Its mission is to help abused women and their children break the cycle of violence in their lives by offering an immediate, confidential place for the abused women and their children to live as well as a supportive environment emphasizing peer support and a self-help philosophy.

Matt Devoti serves as a member of the board of directors of St. Martha’s Hall. For more information about St. Martha’s Hall and the services it offers, visit

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