In the county’s first Superior Court jury trial in more than two years, an Oak Bluffs businessman is suing a well known Island surgeon for medical malpractice in connection with an appendectomy he performed more than eight years ago.

An eight-member jury heard opening arguments Wednesday in a case brought by Choying Rangdol against Dr. Pieter Pil. Even though Dr. Pil regularly performs surgery at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the hospital was not named as party to the case.

“Two and a half years have passed before we had people sitting in that box,” said presiding Superior Court judge the Hon. Janet L. Sanders after the jury was sworn in. “So you deserve some recognition for that.”

Both Mr. Rangdol and Dr. Pil were present in the Dukes County Superior Court courtroom Wednesday along with a small group of observers as their attorneys offered different interpretations of events that prompted the lawsuit.

Mr. Rangdol, owner of Glimpse of Tibet in Oak Bluffs, filed suit in April 2017, claiming Dr. Pil was negligent in following up on an appendectomy he performed in 2014. Dr. Pil contends he exercised an appropriate standard of care.

According to court documents, Mr. Rangdol went to the hospital emergency room at about 11 p.m. on April 28, 2014, complaining of pain in his right side. He was sent to the operating room, where Dr. Pil performed a laparoscopic appendectomy the next morning. He was released from the hospital the following day.

A day later, Mr. Rangdol returned to Dr. Pil with stomach problems. Mr. Rangdol was then readmitted to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital with abdominal issues where he remained for two days before being transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital with internal bleeding. Mr. Rangdol’s complaint alleges malpractice occurred at various points during Mr. Rangdol’s second visit to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, leading to unnecessary pain and suffering and economic hardship.

In an opening statement Wednesday, Northampton attorney Thomas Lesser, representing Mr. Rangdol, said that Dr. Pil understood internal bleeding to be a possibility when Mr. Rangdol returned following the appendectomy. He argued that Dr. Pil failed to properly treat Mr. Rangdol for that possibility, leading to a delayed transfer to Mass General, where infected blood was drained from Mr. Rangdol’s abdomen.

“What Dr. Pil did, what Dr. Pil should have done and how that changed Mr. Rangdol’s life,” Mr. Lesser said. “This case is simple … it involves post-operative care gone wrong.”

Dr. Pil’s lawyer, Boston attorney Brian H. Sullivan, agreed that Mr. Rangdol suffered following his appendectomy. But he argued that Dr. Pil followed proper steps of care in treating Mr. Rangdol.

“It’s an important case,” Mr. Sullivan told the jury. “It’s an important case for Mr. Rangdol; it’s an important case for Dr. Pil.”

A major focus of the plaintiff’s opening argument was a hematocrit level reading taken during Mr. Rangdol’s return to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Hematocrit tests indicate the amount of red blood cells present in a person’s blood.

According to Mr. Lesser, Mr. Rangdol’s reading was 23 per cent — a low red blood cell count that triggered hospital protocols and should have warranted a CAT scan leading to the transfer of Mr. Rangdol to Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Nothing was being done to address and tackle this potentially serious problem,” Mr. Lesser told the jury.

Mr. Sullivan said Dr. Pil observed Mr. Rangdol’s red blood cell count begin to improve overnight upon the patient’s second visit to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. When on the following day Dr. Pil observed Mr. Rangdol’s white blood cell count rise — an indicator that the body is fighting an infection — he ordered a CAT scan for Mr. Rangdol, administered antibiotics and had the patient transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Mr. Sullivan said that witnesses, including Boston University-based doctor and professor Dr. Donald Hess, would corroborate his claims that Dr. Pil took the proper steps in treating Mr. Rangdol, adding that the jury could recognize Mr. Randol’s suffering while also deciding that Dr. Pil did not commit malpractice.

“I expect that I will be asking you to do a difficult task,” Mr. Sullivan said.

The trial was originally scheduled for October 2020, but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was expected to continue for several days, with attorneys hoping to give closing arguments on Friday. In Mr. Lesser’s opening statement, he said that if the trial were to linger into next week, he would be absent from closing arguments which will then be handled by his co-counsel Michael Aleo.

Mr. Rangdol is seeking a verdict against Dr. Pil as well as unspecified damages for pain and suffering.