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Opening statements heard in medical malpractice suit

Jacob Smith • Aug 8, 2017 at 7:11 PM

Opening statements and testimony were given Tuesday morning in a malpractice suit in Wilson County civil court.

Billy Pemberton filed the suit, accusing Dr. Jairo Fortich and Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon of malpractice after Pemberton claimed a wound he sustained while mowing his lawn was improperly cleaned with Cavicide, a disinfectant meant for inanimate surfaces.

Pemberton’s attorney Clinton Kelly argued no medical professional should ever spray a substance onto a patient without first properly examining the substance.

“Look before you spray, or you’re going to have to pay,” said Kelly.

Kelly also said during opening statements Fortich told Pemberton not to tell anybody about the incident.

Fortich’s lawyer James Looper countered with his argument Fortich’s actions did not qualify as deviations from the standard of care. He argued an honest mistake does not qualify as reckless behavior. He then told the jury Kelly would have to prove beyond doubt that Fortich’s application of Cavicide made the wound worse than it would have otherwise been.

“Unless he can show that without a doubt, you must rule for the defendant,” said Looper.

Looper also denied Kelly’s report Fortich told Pemberton not to tell anybody about the incident. He said that simply never happened.

Following opening statements, Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon attorney Thomas Wiseman III presented its case for the incident as neither Fortrich nor the hospital’s fault.

Wiseman argued Jonathan Beard, a nurse who allegedly applied the Cavicide after Fortich had already done so, took responsibility for the mistake and immediately took the necessary precautions upon realizing what both had done. Wiseman also said Pemberton described his pain as nine out of 10 upon admission and was listed as generally subdued upon leaving the hospital.

Wiseman’s final statement was that Beard and Fortich were not at legal cause of the injury that happened to Pemberton.

Opening statements finished within about an hour. Attorneys then started to call witnesses for testimony.

The case will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Judge Clara Byrd’s courtroom. 

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