Jury finds doctors not negligent in malpractice lawsuit

Updated: July 24, 2007, 5:09 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- A jury found against Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis on Tuesday in his malpractice lawsuit against two doctors he claimed botched his care after he had gastric bypass surgery five years ago.

Charlie Weis
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, PoolWeis accused two surgeons of negligence, saying they allowed him to bleed internally for 30 hours after his gastric bypass operation.

The jury deliberated for less than half a day before finding Massachusetts General Hospital surgeons Charles Ferguson and Richard Hodin were not negligent.

Weis, 51, who won three Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, accused the surgeons of negligence, saying they allowed him to bleed internally for 30 hours before performing a second surgery to correct the complication.

Weis nearly died after the 2002 surgery. He testified that he still has numbness and pain in his feet and sometimes has to use a motorized cart.

Weis was stoic as the verdict was read and left the courtroom without comment. His lawyer, Michael Mone, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The doctors declined to comment as they left the courtroom, referring questions to their attorney, William Dailey Jr.

"They and all of the staff down at the Mass. General wished Coach Weis well," Dailey said.

Ferguson, director of Massachusetts General's surgical residency program, and Hodin, a surgeon and professor at Harvard Medical School, said internal bleeding was a well-known complication of the stomach stapling surgery. They said they believed the bleeding would stop on its own and were concerned about performing a second surgery because of the risk of a pulmonary embolism.

Ferguson testified that Weis ignored his advice and pushed to have the operation done quickly rather than going through a recommended six-week preoperative program.

Lawyers for the doctors told the jury that Weis, who weighed about 350 pounds before the surgery, lost about 100 pounds over the next year and landed one of the premier coaching jobs in the country at Notre Dame, his alma mater.

The first trial ended in a mistrial in February after Ferguson and Hodin rushed to the aid of a juror who collapsed in the courtroom.

Weis decided to have the surgery after seeing a slimmed-down Al Roker on television. With a family history of heart disease, he said he was motivated by a desire not to leave his wife a widow.

Weis testified that he told only two people, his wife and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, about his decision. He told New England coach Bill Belichick he was going to have a "stomach procedure."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE