MedMal Trial of Teenage Permanent Blindness Begins Monday, CVN to Webcast Gavel-to-Gavel

archive image of an eye exam

Kalispell, MT – A medical malpractice lawsuit accusing an eye clinic and hospital of failing to refer a teenager with progressive vision loss to a neurosurgeon soon enough to prevent permanent blindness will go to trial Monday in state court in Kalispell, MT. Montana, and the procedure will be hammer to hammer webcast by Courtroom View Network.

Plaintiff Brett Camen, 18, alleges in his lawsuit that staff at Glacier Eye Clinic and Kalispell Regional Medical Center failed to recognize the danger of cerebrospinal fluid accumulating in Brett’s brain over a period of about a month in which fluid pressure on the optic nerve caused Brett’s disease. vision to steadily deteriorate.

Glacier Eye Clinic and Kalispell Regional Medical Center deny the allegations in court filings and argue that Camen’s treatment was within the standard of care for the symptoms he was exhibiting.

CVN will webcast the entire hammer-to-hammer proceedings from the start of opening statements. CVN is the only media organization in the nation to regularly cover hammer-to-hammer medical malpractice lawsuits, though this case marks one of the first medical lawsuits CVN has covered since the initial pandemic shutdown in 2020.

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The lawsuit is also an example of how some in-person jury proceedings are continuing in a handful of state courts despite the recent Omicron wave.

According to his complaint, Camen began to suffer from headaches and blurred vision in mid-December 2017. His symptoms continued to deteriorate despite being seen by doctors in a medical office and eventually to Kalispell Medical Center and Glacier Eye Clinic.

Camen underwent an MRI, which came back normal, but according to her complaint, the radiologist who evaluated the MRI noted that the results did not definitively rule out conditions such as increased cranial pressure. An eventual lumbar puncture revealed that Camen’s cerebrospinal fluid levels were significantly elevated.

In early January 2018, an ophthalmologist at Glacier Eye Clinic evaluated Camen and diagnosed him with “idiopathic intracranial hypertension” and, in consultation with other physicians, continued to treat him with various medications. Camen’s vision continued to deteriorate until he was referred to a neurosurgeon who inserted a shunt to relieve pressure in Camen’s brain on January 15, but at that time, according to his complaint, he was definitely blind.

The attending physician at Glacier Eye Clinic “…departed from accepted standards of care by failing to recognize Brett’s need, by January 5, 2018, for an urgent neurosurgical evaluation in a timely manner,” says Camen’s complaint. “On that date he knew or should have known that Brett suffered from a pseudo-tumor brain, severe papilledema, severe loss of visual field, ongoing severe headaches and worsening of vision despite increased doses of acetazolamide.”

The complaint makes a similar charge against Kalispell Regional Medical Center, arguing that their medical staff should have recognized the urgent need for a neurosurgery referral even earlier on December 21.

Judge Dan Wilson’s rural courtroom in Montana will be filled with national legal firepower from both sides given the potential damage in a case involving a youngster with a normal life expectancy who his lawyers say should never regain sight.

Camen is represented by Nicholas Rowley of Iowa-based Trial Lawyers for Justice. A nationally recognized plaintiffs personal injury lawyer, Rowley is known for his impassioned and sometimes unorthodox tactics in the courtroom, and he has a record of many times far superior settlement offers with verdicts of possible juries.

Rowley is joined by fellow trial attorneys for justice attorneys Benjamin Novotny and Karen Zahka, as well as local Montana attorney E. Craig Daue of Buxbaum Daue PLLC.

Both defendants have very strong out-of-state defense teams. Glacier Eye Clinic is represented by Kent Mathewson of Chicago-based Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC, and local Montana attorneys Sean Goicoechea and Katrina Feller of Moore Cockrell Goicoechea & Johnson PC.

Kalispell Medical Center is represented by Kevin Kuhn of Colorado-based Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP and local Montana attorney Jori Quinlan of Worden Thane PC.

The case is captioned Brett Camen v. Glacier Eye Clinic PC and Kalispell Regional Medical Center Inc., docket number DV-15-2019-0000361-PI, in court for Montana’s Eleventh Judicial District in Flathead County.

Email David Siegel at [email protected]

Elna M. Lemons