Articles Posted in Damages

Harriet Cook, 83, suffered from a degenerative spinal condition in her neck. A pain management specialist, Dr. Michael Rubeis, did a fluoroscopic cervical epidural injection to help with Cook’s pain symptoms. During the procedure, Cook complained of pain. Nevertheless, Dr. Rubeis continued.

Afterwards, Cook discovered that her arms and legs were paralyzed. Her left arm remained paralyzed, which prevented her from living independently as she did before the procedure. Before she passed away, Cook sued Dr. Rubeis’ group, alleging negligent performance of the epidural injection. Cook claimed that Dr. Rubeis chose not to ascertain the location of the needle, leading him to inject steroid solution directly into Cook’s spinal cord, breaching the dura and causing nerve damage.

The jury returned a verdict of $3.5 million. However, the parties settled for an undisclosed amount.

A medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the death of Jeannette Turner first resulted in a jury verdict of $22.1 million in this medical malpractice, wrongful death lawsuit. Sadly, Turner died the night before the jury’s verdict. According to the report of this Illinois Appellate Court case, her death transformed her medical-malpractice lawsuit into a survival claim for Joi Jefferson, Turner’s daughter and the special representative of her estate. As a result, Jefferson was unable to recover compensation that was awarded for any injuries Turner would have suffered in the future.

“Compensatory tort damages are intended to compensate plaintiffs, not to punish defendants,” Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote in the 23-page opinion. “We would run afoul of this principle if we allowed Jeannette’s estate to collect an award for future injuries Jeannette will no longer suffer. For this reason, we limit plaintiff’s recovery to compensation for injuries Jeannette suffered prior to her death.”

Turner had sued Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in 2006 claiming that the hospital’s doctors chose not to care for her after installing a tracheostomy tube in her windpipe. A blood clot developed, causing her to go into respiratory arrest. She suffered serious brain damage after she was without oxygen for 20-25 minutes.
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A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in which the physician’s insurer, Illinois State Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange (ISMIE), refused to pay its $3 million policy limit to settle the case, which was brought by Alizabeth and Alvin Hana. The suit was filed against Drs. Albert and Joyce Chams and Chams Women’s Health Care. At the jury trial, the verdict for the Hanas totaled $6.1 million.

After ISMIE paid its policy limit plus post-judgment interest at 9% and an offset was applied based on a pretrial settlement with other defendants, the doctors were left personally liable for $1.35 million.

The Chamses assigned their bad-faith claim against ISMIE to the Hanas in return for a promise to not enforce the judgment. Then the Hanas sued ISMIE for allegedly breaching its duty to settle.
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Peter Sfameni, 55, stopped taking Warfarin before he underwent a colonoscopy and chose not to resume taking the medication after the procedure. He developed lower back pain, fatigue and weight loss, which prompted a trip to Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital, underwent a bone marrow biopsy and was scheduled for a lymph node biopsy. He was discharged with instructions not to take his blood thinners until a week after the upcoming lymph node biopsy.

Sfameni developed severe blood clots in his legs and lungs before the date of the biopsy. Sfameni returned to the hospital where doctors diagnosed gangrene in his right leg, which required an above-the-knee amputation.

Sfameni spent five months in the hospital, followed by four months in rehabilitation. He now uses a prosthesis and experiences constant phantom pain, anxiety and depression.
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Kevin Clanton, 28, underwent a pre-employment screening and was told that he had high blood pressure. He went to a federally financed public healthcare facility where he met with nurse practitioner Denise Jordan. She noted that he had severe hypertension with blood pressure readings of 210/170. Jordan ordered lab work and diagnosed high cholesterol and obesity in addition to hypertension. She gave Clanton medication samples and told him to follow up with her the next week so that he could receive his work clearance.

Clanton did not follow up with Jordan as instructed. About two years later, his employer told him that he needed medical care due to his high blood pressure. For the next year, Clanton consulted again with Jordan who attempted to lower his blood pressure with various medications and address his symptoms such as blurred vision.

Clanton often took extended absences from his treatment and stopped consulting with Jordan for 15 months before resuming treatment with her. Lab tests taken at his latest visit showed that he had Stage IV chronic kidney disease. Clanton was not advised of this condition.
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A lawsuit arising from the death of Jeannette Turner first resulted in a jury verdict of $22.1 million in this medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit. Sadly, Turner died the night before the jury’s verdict. According to the report of this Illinois Appellate Court case, her death transformed her medical malpractice lawsuit into a survival claim for Joi Jefferson, Turner’s daughter and the special representative of her estate.

As a result, Jefferson was unable to recover compensation that was awarded for any future injuries Turner would have suffered.

“Compensatory tort damages are intended to compensate plaintiffs, not to punish defendants,” Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote in the 23-page opinion. “We would run afoul of this principle if we allowed Jeannette’s estate to collect an award for future injuries Jeannette will no longer suffer. For this reason, we limit plaintiff’s recovery to compensation for injuries Jeannette suffered prior to her death.”
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Nerisa Williams was 43 years old when she underwent a hysterectomy that was completed by her gynecologist, Dr. Kenneth Baker. During the surgery, Dr. Baker unknowingly transected or cut Williams’s ureter. The ureter is made up of two tubes of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder in an adult. The ureters are paired and described as muscular ducts with narrow openings that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

Because of the transection of the ureter, Williams developed permanent urinary incontinence.

She sued Dr. Baker, alleging that his negligent conduct in the surgery led to the need for a second surgery, which caused even more medical complications.
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Elizabeth McNamara was 63 when she underwent a right hip replacement that was done by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Weissberg. After the surgery, she developed right foot drop and was diagnosed as having an injured peroneal nerve.

McNamara continued to suffer the foot drop and numbness in her right leg — problems that caused her to fall and necessitated the use of a leg brace for walking and modifications to her car so that she was able to drive.

McNamara and her husband filed a lawsuit against Dr. Weissberg, maintaining that the nerve injury resulted from either his misplacement of a surgical retractor or application of excessive force on the right leg during the surgery.
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The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a state law that capped noneconomic damages in medical malpractice injury lawsuits that stood at $1 million. The high court found that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution.

In this 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth District Court of Appeals’ 2015 decision that found that the cap, established by Florida statute, does not pass the rational basis test because the law arbitrarily reduces medical malpractice claimants’ rights to full compensation when there are multiple claimants and because it “does not bear a rational relationship” to its stated purpose of addressing an alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in the state.

The decision relied heavily on the Florida Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Estate of McAll v. United States that struck down the cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases for many of the same reasons.
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