A Springfield, Mo., jury signed a verdict for $28.9 million for a 24-year-old woman who sustained a devastating brain injury caused by a rare copper disorder. The lawsuit, brought in Greene County, Mo., claimed that a local hospital’s medical staff chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Emilee Williams’ symptoms. In fact, it was alleged that the hospital took the position that it did not need to do a full and complete neurological exam even though Williams presented to the hospital with symptoms. The hospital dismissed her symptoms as anxiety.
It was in December 2012 that Williams presented to the hospital. She was examined by Dr. Elene Pilapil with complaints of fatigue, tremors, balance issues, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, crying spells and anxiety. Dr. Pilapil diagnosed Williams with anxiety and did not consider ordering more diagnostic testing. A prescription for Prozac was written and Williams was sent home. Eight months later, not until August 2013, was an MRI finally ordered that showed that Williams was brain damaged, caused by the previously undiagnosed Wilson’s disease. This was done only after Emilee and her mother continued to complain to the doctor that Emilee had something much more significant happening to her than just anxiety.
As it was proved at trial, Williams had undiagnosed Wilson’s disease. This disease, although rare, causes too much copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and other vital organs, which was the cause of her devastating permanent injuries. Williams was a former high school student and athlete, but today is limited from paralysis, motor and speech impairment and must be fed through a tube in her stomach.