Nelly Rivera, when Tug first sees her, lies helpless in a hospital bed. Once sassy, active and ambitious, she’s now a young woman with an uncertain future and a present seemingly tied to dependency. Discovering exactly what happened to her in a dental office while under anesthesia and who was responsible, however, is just one of Tug’s goals. For he soon enough learns Nelly’s recently inherited a hefty sum from her late father’s life insurance. Which definitely complicates matters. The closer Tug, committed as always to gaining justice, gets to the truth the more elusive it becomes.

Nelly’s Case, Tug Wyler & Me

In medical malpractice cases—especially those involving patient injury occurring under anesthesia—there are no witnesses. Meaning … none able, or willing, to testify on behalf of the injured plaintiff. Sure, several medical professionals—the surgeon, scrub nurse, circulating nurse, physician’s assistant, or others—may all have been positioned to see what took place, causing catastrophic patient harm. But the unfortunate reality is that confessions of malpractice simply don’t exist. Or, at least, never have I heard of any over the course of my thirty-year legal career. (And then, even when I settle a malpractice case, defense counsel and the insurance company insist on a do-not-publicize agreement. Shhh.)

Post-op—once tragedy has struck a loved one—it offers no comfort at all to hear the formulaic explanation: “Sorry. But what happened is a rarely occurring risk and complication of the procedure.” This, unfortunately, without more, leaves the victim and family members wondering what really happened.

Yet what we have here in Nelly Rivera’s case is the exact opposite. A direct witness—her half-sister, Jessie—was actually in the room when the adverse anesthetic event occurred. How could a malpractice attorney like Tug Wyler ask for a better circumstance than such an absolute evidentiary windfall to help prove his case?

But nothing is ever so simple. Instead, what happens next is the equivalent of a trap door opening. Unavoidably pushed through it, as he pursues justice for his client, Tug finds himself witness to the fact that Nelly’s distressing brain injury has unlocked previously dormant family secrets.

Highly dangerous ones.