Doctor’s estate settles retained sponge case

In the summer of 1977, Linda Schoelkoph was a 27 year old married mother who suddenly developed mid-section pain acutely and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. Ms. Schoelkoph was examined by a surgeon and an appendectomy was emergently performed.

More than twenty-three years later, in the fall of 2000, Ms. Schoelkoph began to experience mid-section pain. When the source of the pain could not be readily established, a CT scan was performed. The scan revealed a surgical sponge in the peritoneal cavity in the area where the appendectomy had been performed. The sponge was surgically removed in the spring of 2001. The surgeon who removed the sponge related it back to the appendectomy of 1977. By the time the sponge was discovered, however, the records for the 1977 appendectomy were long gone, and the surgeon had retired, living in Southern Florida. He had also suffered a stroke, incapacitating him.

Eric Zajac located witnesses who remembered details of the 1977 surgery, including Ms. Schoelkoph’s estranged ex-husband and a former neighbor who had gone to the doctor’s office with Ms. Schoelkoph in the post-surgery recovery period. The Zajac Law Firm successfully fought off several motions to dismiss the case, and the action settled several weeks before trial.

The specific terms and conditions of settlement are confidential.