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Acclaimed surgeon Dr. Jim Bradley loses suit for $43.5 million to former Philadelphia Eagles player

Dr. James Bradley, former Penn State player and Bishop McCort grad

… Negligence decision a blot on a great career for McCort grad

Jim Bradley has excelled on so many levels. As an athlete at Bishop McCort High School and Penn State, he was an outstanding player and captain of the Nittany Lion football team.

As a son of a medical doctor, he was an outstanding student who found his way to an outstanding medical school at Georgetown University.

As a surgeon, he has received tremendous accolades, such as these,

Dr. James P. Bradley is a globally recognized American Board-Certified Orthopedic surgeon and leader in sports medicine research and treatments.

An educator and innovator, he has contributed advancements in surgical techniques and patents for medical devices.

Dr. Bradley is one of the few Orthopedic surgeons who has been president of the Herodicus society, the National Football League Physician’s Society, and most recently in July 2020 he completed a successful presidential term for the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) …

in 2019, Dr. Bradley was awarded the Arthur C. Rettig Award for excellence in academic research given by the National Football League Physicians Society (NFLPS) and is on the Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors of 2019. Honored in 2017, Dr. Bradley was named in the “Becker’s Spine Review: 65 Orthopedic Surgeons recommended by Orthopedic Surgeons.”

Burke & Bradley Orthopedics, current

However, this week, he was found liable for negligence in one of his surgeries. Here is what the argument that was made against him.

Chris Maragos lawsuit

The problem for Bradley and Rothman Orthopaedics Institute started with the knee surgery for a player who had been a special teams captain for the Eagles,

The doctors for former Eagles team captain Chris Maragos exhibited “medical negligence” in treating the 2017 career-ending knee injury, a Philadelphia jury found Monday, ordering them to pay the ex-NFL All-Pro player $43.5 million.

Shortly after his 2019 retirement from the NFL, Maragos sued his acclaimed Pittsburgh-based surgeon, James Bradley, and Rothman Orthopaedics Institute, whose physicians serve as the Eagles’ orthopedic doctors and who oversaw Maragos’ knee surgery rehabilitation.

The lawsuit alleged the special teams ace’s NFL run was cut short by “medical negligence” from his doctors who operated on and rehabilitated Maragos’ torn posterior cruciate ligament following an injury during the Eagles 2017-18 Super Bowl season. While addressing his PCL, the doctors, Maragos’ attorneys say, ignored damage to the player’s meniscus — leading to a premature end to his professional career, and causing ongoing knee issues.

“Jury awards $43.5 million in knee-injury case,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 2023

Bradley was the head team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers for more than 29 years, and he has performed surgeries on many players.

In acute detail, jurors were shown reams of doctor’s notes, MRIs, medical charts, a video of a surgery, and a photo taken from inside Maragos’ knee as the lawyers sparred over the treatment of his meniscus during surgery and rehabilitation.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 2023

Bradley’s contention

Rothman provides medical services for the Eagles, and they believed that the meniscus injury was actually a result of an accident in the weight room after the surgery for the PCL injury,

Bradley — who has operated on the knees of high-profile NFL players and served more than 30 years as a team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers — told the jury that he was using his judgment when Maragos came to him in 2017, and that if the player needed a second surgery, “I would have done it.”

“I’m a surgeon, that’s what I do,” he testified. “If I had to operate on that, I’d operate on that in a heartbeat.”

Two of Maragos’ Eagles doctors defended their actions during the player’s rehabilitation, and a Houston Texans team physician testified he believed the safety was treated appropriately.

Attorneys for Rothman and Bradley also argued that Maragos was healing well from his PCL reconstruction, and that damage to his meniscus was caused in a separate instance in the weight room months after the surgery. Furthermore, they contended Maragos had a lengthy eight-year run in the NFL — more than double the average NFL career of 3.3 years — and that, at 31, with Maragos’ arthritis and bowed legs as well as the injury, the doctors could not do more to extend his professional career.

“Unfortunately,” Rothman attorney Melissa L. Mazur told the jury at the start of the trial, “[Maragos] just had a really, really bad injury that he couldn’t come back from.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 2023

Poor timing in Super Bowl Week

The fact that many Eagles players came to the support of their former teammate during one of the best seasons in recent history. That may have worked against Bradley,

John C. Conti, who represented Bradley in the trial, said that while he “very much respect[s] the jury’s verdict and of course wish[s] the best for Serah and Chris,” he believes that the doctors couldn’t have prevented the injury “no matter what they did.”

Conti added that the timing of the trial, between the Eagles’ NFC championship and Super Bowl loss, as well as the star-studded witness list, had “enormous impact. That’s an awful strong tide to swim against,” he said.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 2023

This has been a difficult challenge for a physician who has been practicing for decades and has had a long, successful career. This could be overturned on appeal or the amount could be reduced, but those may be long shots.

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