Medical malpractice alleged during hysterectomy. $308K. Alameda County.


After hysterectomy, plaintiff goes to ER where general surgeon finds a bowel problem.

The Case

  • Case Name: Natacha Smith v. Baotram H. Nguyen M.D.
  • Court and Case Number: Alameda County Superior Court / RG15792535
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, December 06, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, November 09, 2015
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Dennis Hayashi
  • Plaintiffs:
    Natacha Smith
  • Defendants:
    Boatram H. Nguyen M.D.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $304,800
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $304,800 as to defendant Boatram H. Nguyen M.D. 

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $300,000  (before MICRA reduction).

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Haley Law Offices by Matthew Haley and Michael Haley, Oakland.

    Knox and Ross by Jason Ross, Oakland.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Donnelly, Nelson, Depolo and Efremsky by Vanessa Efremsky, Walnut Creek.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    James Tappan M.D., obstetrics-gynecology, San Mateo.

    W. Geoffrey Watson M.D., internal medicine. (Treating physician.)

    Elyssa Feinberg M.D., trauma surgery. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Frederica Lofquist M.D, obstetrics-gynecology, San Francisco.

    Barry Gardiner M.D., general surgery, San Ramon.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was a 47-year-old female who suffered from menorrhagia or heavy menstral bleeding for many years. Boatram H. Nguyen M.D. was an obstetrician gynecologist with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation in Castro Valley. Plaintiff was referred to the defendant for consideration of a hysterectomy. After consultation, plaintiff agreed to a total vaginal hysterectomy.

    The procedure was performed at Eden Medical Center on November 10, 2014. After the uterus was removed, the defendant closed the vaginal cuff with sutures.

    Over the next several days, plaintiff developed abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea. On November 21, 2014 she was seen in the emergency room at Eden where she was diagnosed with a suspected bowel obstruction. Alyssa Feinberg M.D., a general surgeon, was consulted and performed a diagnostic laparoscopy where she found the errant stitch in the small bowel at the transition point of the obstruction. She removed the stitch and then converted to an open procedure to repair the small bowel obstruction. She removed six inches of the small bowel.  Plaintiff was left with scarring and ongoing medical needs.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant doctor erred at the end of surgery and ran one of the stitches into plaintiff's small bowel, attaching the small bowel to the vaginal cuff. 

    That defendant was negligent and did not watch the tip of the needle as she closed the vaginal cuff. That this injury does not occur if the physician is careful and that this complication does not occur in the absence of negligence.

    Further, that defendant should have offered less intrusive medical alternatives to the hysterectomy such as the contraceptive injection, Depo-Provera, or endometrial ablation before resorting to a hysterectomy.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That defendant OB/Gyn was not negligent; rather, this is a risk of the procedure. 

    That plaintiff was fully advised of her options, but chose hysterectomy because it was the "definitive treatment" for her condition. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Abdominal scarring; exacerbation of pre-existing anxiety and depression; dumping syndrome.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $2,400
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $2,400
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: 0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: 0

Additional Notes

Offer was 0 as defendant would not consent. Demand C.C.P. 998 for $240,000.