Theresa Seto, a 47 year old mother of five, underwent gallbladder removal surgery by Dr. Michael Fraterelli, M.D. at the Medical Center of Aurora.
A doctor’s goal in a gallbladder removal surgery is to identify the cystic duct, clip it, and remove the gallbladder. The cystic duct runs from the gallbladder to the common duct. It is the only duct that joins the gallbladder. The common bile duct never joins the gallbladder. Cutting the common duct is life-threatening. There is no meaningful difference in the appearance of the two ducts. The ducts are identifiable only by where they run. The common duct never joins the gallbladder. The cystic duct is the only duct that runs to the gallbladder.
Dr. Fraterelli failed to conclusively identify the cystic duct, and chose not to take the steps required of reasonably careful surgeons to conclusively identify the cystic duct before cutting. He assumed he had identified the correct duct, and cut the common duct instead of the cystic duct, causing significant injury to Ms. Seto.
Dr. Fraterelli refused to accept responsibility for his actions. Evan Banker of Chalat Hatten & Banker, together with the Sean Olson of the Olson Law Firm, represented Ms. Seto at trial, where a jury found Dr. Fraterelli liable for medical malpractice. The jury returned a verdict for Ms. Seto and against Dr. Fraterelli for $1.04 million. See Seto v. Fraterelli.