New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor is suing Los Angeles Chargers team doctor David Gazzaniga and the Newport Orthopedic Institute for malpractice and medical battery over the administration of pain treatment on Sept. 20, 2020. The incident led to a collapsed lung for Taylor, but attorneys for the defendants insist the lawsuit is meritless and that Taylor consented to both the procedure and its risks.
Taylor, who insists the teams effectively downgraded him after the injury, is seeking at least $5 million given salary discrepancies between starting QBs and backup QBs. He also insists the pneumothorax “continues to cause [him] extreme pain and suffering.”
ESPN was first to report on Taylor’s complaint, an amended version of which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last September. Sportico has obtained other court documents submitted by Taylor and the defendants as they have appeared before Judge William Crowfoot.
Taylor, 33, suffered fractures on his sixth and seventh ribs on his left side during the Chargers game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 13, 2020. Gazzaniga initially treated Taylor with anti-inflammatories and a few days later administered injections of bupivacaine, a local anesthetic. As Taylor tells it, Gazzaniga told Taylor there were four areas where an injection would help, but he wanted to inject in only two areas to minimize the risk of complications. A second set of injections occurred the next day. A third set of injections took place before the Chargers-Bengals game, but Taylor began to develop pain towards the sternum and shoulder blade as well as “numbness traveling up towards his clavicle.” Taylor was transported by ambulance to Harbor-UCLA, where he was treated for an array of ailments, including shortness of breath and chest pain.
Through his attorneys at Daniels, Fine, Israel, Schonbuch & Lebovits, Taylor argues that Gazzaniga mishandled his condition by “administering a higher volume of the anesthetic” and failing to identify a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) in a timely manner.
Malpractice (negligence) and battery are similar claims. The former largely concerns a patient consenting to a procedure but the doctor failing to share key information about the risks, while the latter focuses on a doctor who performs a surgery that is substantially different from the one to which the patient consented. Taylor maintains he wasn’t adequately advised of the risks and wasn’t ably counseled about the method of procedure.
Taylor insists the injury cost him his career as an NFL starter. The QB developed from a backup with the Baltimore Ravens into a starter for the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns before returning to a backup role with the Chargers behind Philip Rivers in 2019. The following season, Rivers left as a free agent and Taylor began the season as the starter; after his injury, the Chargers turned to rookie Justin Hebert, the sixth pick in the 2020 NFL draft, who went on to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
While Taylor describes his health in worrisome terms, his NFL career has continued. Last year the Houston Texans signed him to a one-year contract worth up to $12.5 million. Taylor started six games for the Texans, throwing five touchdowns against five interceptions and amassing 966 passing yards. He also rushed for three touchdowns and 151 yards. In March, the Giants signed Taylor to a two-year, $11 million deal that could be worth as much as $17 million should Taylor, who is Daniel Jones’ primary backup, meet incentives.
Gazzaniga’s attorneys from Carroll, Kelly, Trotter & Franzen argue that Taylor’s retelling of “a series of events and injection volumes” is factually “incorrect.” The attorneys maintain Taylor received less bupivacaine than his complaint indicates, particularly with respect to the amount he received before the Bengals game.
The attorneys also write that it is “blatantly untrue” that “Mr. Taylor gave no consent for the procedure” before the game.
“Mr. Taylor presented to Dr. Gazzaniga for rib injections, he was told that the volume was being increased to avoid having to give him more injections at halftime, and Mr. Taylor had his shirt off and allowed Dr. Gazzaniga to take a needle and inject the local anesthetic,” the attorneys write. “Mr. Taylor’s actions were his consent.”
The attorneys further stress that, under California law, consent “may be manifested by acts or conduct” and “need not necessarily be shown by writing or by express words.” They emphasize that Taylor presented himself on three occasions for treatment to address pain from two broken ribs and each time he received the same treatment—injections using a needle over the sixth and seventh ribs. They question why Taylor does not allege the first two occasions were without consent. “Rather,” they write, “he contends that just the last one which had an adverse outcome is the one he did not consent to.”
The case could settle at any time. If it continues, appropriate damages are likely to trigger disagreement. Former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn could be called to testify, and expert witnesses could offer dueling testimonies about Taylor’s football chops. While Taylor blames the injury for subverting his opportunity to start, he has spent much of his NFL career as a backup. Entering the 2020 season, he had played in 70 NFL games for five teams, starting 46 of those games with a record of 23-21-1. Conventional wisdom held that it was only a matter of time before the Chargers turned to Herbert, regardless of Taylor’s injury. To the extent Taylor was headed for the bench anyway, his financial demands might be harder to prove—especially since he was healthy enough to play in 2021 for the Texans.