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Former football team doctor punts away medical malpractice suit

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A former team physician for the Miami Dolphins successfully defended a lawsuit filed by a former player who charged him with medical malpractice in connection with a career-ending toe injury.

Dr. John Uribe’s law firm, Miami-based Cole, Scott & Kissane PA, said in a Wednesday statement its attorneys obtained a complete defense verdict Friday in a $19.9 million medical malpractice case filed by former Miami Dolphin wide receiver O.J. McDuffie.

The statement said in November 1999 McDuffie was one of the National Football League’s leading wide receivers when, during a game against the New England Patriots, he suffered a significant turf toe injury. He was treated and re-entered the game. He was then sidelined for a month, but rejoined the team later that season, according to the statement by the law firm.

At the end of the season, Mr. McDuffie underwent multiple surgeries on his toe and later sued Dr. Uribe, who was the team’s head orthopedic physician, alleging that allowing him to play with his injury delayed his treatment, caused arthritis to progress and cost him his career, according to the statement.

In April 2010 a jury found the physician negligent and awarded Mr. McDuffie $11.5 million, but the trial judge granted Dr. Uribe a new trial based on evidentiary issues, with that decision being upheld on appeal.

Following a two-week retrial, where plaintiff witnesses included former football player Dan Marino, a Miami jury found the doctor was not negligent.

Mr. McDuffie’s attorney had rejected a $1 million settlement in the case before the verdict, according to the law firm’s Facebook account.

The original case, Otis J. McDuffie v. John W. Uribe, was filed in 2002 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, state court.