A Philadelphia County jury found orthopedic surgeon James Bradley and Rothman Orthopaedics Institute negligent in their treatment of the plaintiff, former Philadelphia Eagles’ safety and captain, Chris Maragos. The jury awarded Maragos $43.5 million in damages.
On October 12, 2017, during a football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina, Maragos suffered an injury to his right knee on a punt return. Maragos underwent an MRI at Rothman Orthopaedics Institute in Philadelphia. Following the scan, he was diagnosed with a torn right knee posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Based upon Maragos’ MRI, Dr. Bradley performed surgery to treat the torn right knee PCL. Rothman Orthopaedics oversaw Maragos’ treatment and subsequent recovery.
In May 2018, Maragos underwent a second MRI that showed that his knee had not healed properly. More specifically, Maragos’ MRI revealed a torn meniscus, which was missed by Dr. Bradley.
Despite the MRI results, Dr. Bradley released Maragos for rehabilitation treatment on his right knee, including running on dry land. Following the recommended rehabilitation, Maragos complained of further complications. The undue stress on Maragos’ knee from rehabilitation ultimately resulted in the premature end of Maragos’ NFL career.
Since the surgery performed by Dr. Bradley and his subsequent rehabilitation activities, Maragos has had two additional surgeries to address his continued knee problems.
Maragos and his attorneys, Peter J. Flowers and Frank V. Cesarone of Meyers & Flowers and Dion G. Rassias and Jill Johnson of The Beasley Firm, argued that Maragos suffered from a torn meniscus, of which Dr. Bradley was aware based upon the MRI. Moreover, according to Maragos, Dr. Bradley and Rothman failed to properly treat the torn meniscus. They also negligently released Maragos and advanced his activities to the point of permitting running on dry land. Maragos alleged that due to Dr. Bradley and Rothman’s negligent treatment of his knee, his knee endured undue stress. This, in turn, led to further complications of the tear and contributed to the end of Maragos’ football career.
On the other hand, the defendants alleged that Maragos’ meniscus was stable. Furthermore, the defense asserted that they were of the opinion that surgery was not the right option.
Super Bowl 2023 and the Trial
On Monday, February 13, the day after the Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, the jury returned a verdict against Dr. Bradley and Rothman.
Judge Charles J. Cunningham presided over the two-week trial in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Witnesses for the plaintiff included former Eagles players Nick Foles, Trey Burton, and Jordan Hicks.
The attorney for the defendant doctor opined that the timing of the trial, between the Eagles’ NFC championship and Super Bowl loss, as well as the star-studded witness list, had an enormous impact.
Expert witnesses also played an integral role in the trial. Flowers worked with Expert Institute to find a radiologist who specialized in musculoskeletal imaging to provide an expert opinion that supported the case facts.
The Verdict and Future Implications
After three hours of deliberation, the Philadelphia County jury awarded $43.5 million to Maragos. The jury found Bradley and Rothman negligent in releasing Maragos to rehabilitation, which caused further damage to his right knee.
The jury found Dr. Bradley to be 67% negligent and Rothman 33% negligent. Maragos will receive $29.2 million and $14.3 million from the defendants respectively.
Maragos hopes that this verdict will encourage team doctors and trainers to prioritize the long-term health and well-being of the athletes rather than focusing on getting the player back on the field as soon as possible.