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Court refuses to hear Philippon appeal

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The Florida Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeals case asserting that Dr. Marc Philippon committed malpractice more than 13 years ago.

The lawsuit stems from a 1997 surgery Philippon performed on then 17-year-old Katie Shreffler, a ballerina from Coconut Creek, Fla.

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, by denying the case’s jurisdiction, means a previous jury verdict that holds Philippon and Holy Cross Hospital responsible for medical malpractice stands.



Philippon, a Vail-based orthopedic surgeon with many high profile patients including celebrities and professional athletes, performed a procedure on Shreffler called hip arthroscopy at the Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said Crane Johnstone, Shreffler’s attorney.

Johnstone said the procedure “had just come into vogue,” and was “very, very new.”



“It was brand new, and (Dr. Philippon) was very early in his experience (performing the procedure),” Johnstone said.

The procedure involved two small incisions, one for the medical instrument and the other for a camera to view the hip area.

Other doctors later discovered that cartilage that prevents bone-on-bone rubbing was permanently damaged, according to a statement Johnstone released Wednesday, which claims the damage was caused because Philippon applied too much pressure with a shaving device as he broke off two of the devices in Shreffler’s hip joint during the procedure.



Bruce Montoya, Philippon’s attorney, maintains the damage done to Shreffler happened in a subsequent surgery performed by another doctor, not during the 1997 surgery Philippon performed.

“We are very disappointed by the Florida Supreme Court’s decision,” Montoya said in a statement released Thursday. “The evidence in this case overwhelmingly demonstrates that Dr. Philippon properly performed an appropriate and accepted procedure to treat Ms. Shreffler’s torn labrum in 1997. The procedure was not experimental in 1997, nor is it now.”

Johnstone said Shreffler now walks with a limp, uses a cane and is in constant pain. He said she also may require a hip replacement in the future.

Montoya’s statement said there is no credible evidence today, nor has there ever been, that Philippon caused any injury to Shreffler.

“Dr. Philippon successfully treated Ms. Shreffler’s torn labrum, and imaging studies confirmed this successful treatment. Subsequent medical records show that Ms. Shreffler’s treating physicians did not believe that her later complaints of pain originated in her hip.”

The case was tried before a jury, which found Philippon and Holy Cross Hospital responsible. The jury determined that Philippon did not have proper credentials to perform that specific procedure in that specific hospital, while both Philippon and Holy Cross Hospital maintain that he did have the proper credentials, Johnstone said, referring to a list that hospital credential committees create that outline the specific procedures doctors are allowed to perform.

A judge then denied a motion by the defendants asking for a new trial.

Philippon and Holy Cross Hospital then filed an appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeals in South Florida, which rendered a written opinion that the jury’s original verdict should stand.

Attorneys representing Philippon and Holy Cross Hospital then filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which denied the case because of a lack of jurisdiction.

Montoya said there are some other options that will be considered in terms of continuing to appeal the decision, while Johnstone said the case is now officially over.

“There’s nowhere else to go,” Johnstone said.

Montoya said Shreffler’s attorneys are trying to ruin Philippon’s reputation.

“Dr. Philippon is recognized nationally, internationally and by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery as a leading expert in the field,” Montoya said. “Dr. Philippon stands by the care he provided in this case.”

Holy Cross Hospital is responsible for the damages, which amounted to $2.15 million under the original 2007 jury verdict. After fees, costs and interest, the award is now $4.3 million, according to Johnstone.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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