Ohio Jury Returns $6.3 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

November 3, 2009

Victory was had in the medical malpractice case involving an Ohio woman who suffered brain damage following a small outpatient surgery in 2007.

59 year old Sally Clawson went in for a simple 30 minute laser procedure on her back on March 2, 2007.  Shortly after the surgery, Clawson began complaining of pain.  At that point, she was given 20 mg of morphine followed almost immediately by 20 mg of Valium.  According to court documents, this combination can cause severe respiratory problems.

After the double dosage of pain medication, Clawson began vomiting and was subsequently given even more medication.  Shortly thereafter she became “nonresponsive to verbal stimuli” and during the next hour drifted in and out of consciousness.  At that point she was intubated to allow her more oxygen into her lungs.

But it was already too late.  Clawson had already suffered irreversible brain damage that could have been avoided, the lawsuit claims, had she been intubated a mere half hour earlier.

Clawson now lives with her son, and suffers seizures and difficulty walking.  She cannot speak, requires assistance with eating and has such severe short-term memory loss that she gets lost if she leaves her house.

The jury awarded the massive verdict, specifying that it be allocated as follows:

  • $4 million for future medical care
  • $73,000 for past medical expenses
  • $1.25 million for pain and suffering
  • $182,000 for future lost wages
  • $50,000 for past lost wages
  • $500,000 for loss of ability to perform daily activities
  • $250,000 for loss of consortium

The trial lasted two weeks and it took the jury only seven hours to reach a verdict.

Source:  www.daytondailynews.com

How Your Medical Attorney Views You

August 26, 2009

There have been plenty of discussions on the topic of what you, the client, should look for when choosing a medical attorney to represent you. But there are two sides to every coin, and it’s important to also understand how your medical attorney views you and what he looks for in a client.

The truth is, not every case is actionable, and not every client is a good fit. Just as you will measure the competition and use certain criteria to decide on the best legal representation for you, the attorneys you meet with will be doing their own sizing up – of you.

There are certain things that a good medical lawyer will look for when deciding whether or not to accept a medical malpractice case.

First of all, are you telling the truth? Medical attorneys work very hard to get compensation for their clients who have legitimate claims, so a good one won’t bother wasting time with someone who isn’t being honest or whose story doesn’t quite add up. A good deal of medical malpractice lawsuits end up in court, in front of a judge or jury so yours has to be strong and believable if it’s going to have a chance of being successful. Bottom line is if your story doesn’t make sense then your case will likely be turned down.

The second thing a good medical lawyer looks for when assessing a potential client is whether there was actual malpractice committed. Remember, not every medical error equates to malpractice or negligence. An experienced attorney will ask some probing questions and assess the situation to determine whether a case is actionable before deciding to represent a client. If it is determined that what occurred was not as a result of negligence, it’s doubtful that your case will see the light of day.

If it turns out that you have been a victim of a doctor’s negligence, the next thing a good attorney will look for is whether you actually suffered harm as a result. Obviously if you are no worse for wear, a jury is not going to order that you be paid a settlement as compensation. Medical malpractice victims must have suffered legitimate injury or harm that can be proven in order for a case to be worth pursuing. If an attorney feels that you haven’t truly been harmed, or that your case will be too difficult to prove, don’t be surprised if you are turned away.

Lastly, but probably most importantly, medical lawyers will not agree to work with a client that they don’t get along with. There must be a high level of trust and respect between an attorney and his client. And medical malpractice cases can take a long time to resolve. If there is not a good rapport from the beginning, it’s probably better that the client and the attorney move on.

It’s important to remember that even when you are sizing up a potential medical attorney, you are also being sized up. Assuming both you and the attorney are a good fit, and your case is a strong one, then the process of filing your medical malpractice case can begin.

Surgical Malpractice Victim Wins in Court

August 18, 2009

A New Mexico jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Michael Salopek, awarding him $1 million last week in his surgical malpractice lawsuit.

Dr. David Friedman, the surgeon who operated on Salopek in February 2005, was named in the lawsuit alleging that he failed to locate and repair a perforation that had occurred during an earlier colonoscopy. The doctor testified during the trial that because he didn’t find the perforation, he concluded that it had sealed itself.

He was wrong, however, and the hole continued to leak fecal matter into Salopek’s abdomen for 11 days, causing a massive infection. He has since had to undergo 13 additional surgeries, including one to remove part of his colon.

The law in New Mexico places a $600,000 damages cap on pain and suffering, so sadly the victim will not receive all of what the jury justly awarded him.

Nurse Malpractice in the News

April 9, 2009

An Arkansas woman has filed a nurse malpractice lawsuit against Northwest Medical Center, alleging that the skin injuries she suffered while recovering from back surgery were caused by her nurse’s negligence.

Lila Mae Simmons underwent successful back surgery in 2007 and was recovering when a nurse injured her by pulling on a bed sheet that had dried and was adhered to the skin of her buttocks region.  The result was what is known as a “mechanical skin sheer injury” and Ms. Simmons claims that the nurse in question should have known that she was at risk due to her reduced mobility, age related skin changes and the medication she was on at the time.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the nurses at the medical center should have implemented a medical care plan which involved repositioning the patient every couple of hours and ensuring that her skin was kept dry.  According to medical records, this was not done.

She is seeking unspecified damages.  The hospital declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Source:  http://nwanews.com

Missed Diagnosis Results in Young Model Losing her Hands and Feet, then her Life

January 29, 2009

In a tragic case of medical negligence, a critical diagnosis was missed resulting in the death of a beautiful young model, after having to have her feet and her hands amputated in an attempt to save her life.

20 year old Brazilian Mariana Bridi da Costa sought medical attention in late December and was initially told she was suffering from kidney stones.  Unfortunately, what she really had was an infection termed as pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium, which is often fatal.

When she finally returned to the hospital, the infection had spread.  It was then that doctors discovered that septicemia (dangerous bacteria in the blood) had set in.  Circulation was being cut off to her limbs, and the only way to save her life at that point was to amputate.  Unfortunately, just a few days following the surgery, da Costa died.

It is thought that da Costa was actually originally suffering from a urinary tract infection, which went untreated and ultimately spread, causing the ensuing septicemia.

Another tragedy of a young life cut short by a medical error.  Da Costa was once a finalist in the Brazilian stage of the Miss World beauty pageant, and had also participated in the 2007 Miss Bikini International contest.  Now, she leaves behind what once was a bright future, shattered.

It is unclear whether a medical malpractice or wrongful death suit will be brought, but chances are there will.

Source: FOXNews.com

Negligence at Blood Bank Leads to Death

December 14, 2008

There is currently a case in front of the Florida Supreme Court regarding the tragic death of a 7 year old boy.  The family’s lawyer is petitioning the court to restore the jury verdict that awarded $8 million in the medical negligence case against LifeSouth Community Blood Centers Inc., a Florida blood bank.

The victim, Chase Fitchner, died 18 months after receiving a blood transfusion with blood tainted with the deadly West Nile virus.

The original ruling was overturned by the 1st District Court stating that the parents did not follow proper procedure when filing their claim.  Medical negligence laws hold that notice be given to the defendant in a lawsuit prior to the suit being filed with the court.  The family’s lawyer is arguing that due to confidentiality laws, the family was unable to obtain the appropriate documentation prior to filing suit and therefore the ruling should stand.  It is a complex and intricate case.

This is a good example of why having an experienced medical attorney on your side is so important.  The laws governing such claims are complex and confusing, and not knowing them can prove detrimental to your case.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of medical negligence, speak with an attorney that specializes in these types of cases and knows the law.  They will help you get the justice you deserve.

Source: www.news-press.com

Medical Lawsuits

October 23, 2008

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should know that you have legal rights and should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss these rights.  Often times in these types of cases, a settlement between the physician in question and the patient cannot be reached, therefore they end up in court.  If you are preparing to head to court in such a case, you should know exactly how medical lawsuits work, so that you can be prepared ahead of time for what to expect.

Medical lawsuits are made up of a plaintiff and a defendant.  In these cases the plaintiff is the patient bringing the lawsuit and the defendant is the physician who is being accused of negligence.  Sometimes there are multiple defendants, such as a doctor’s entire staff, and even whole institutions.

In cases where the patient in question is deceased and a wrongful death suit is being brought before the court, the plaintiff is typically the person who has been named executor of the decedent’s estate, or a family member.

Prior to the trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant exchange information and documentation, usually between their attorneys.  This period of time is referred to as discovery.  It is during this time that both sides begin to prepare their cases.

Your attorney will gather as much documentation as possible to help prove your medical lawsuit.  He or she will get your detailed medical records and any other pertinent information that can be used to solidify your claim.

During the trial, both sides have the opportunity to present their evidence to the judge or jury.  Often, expert witnesses will be called to testify for either side, as to the legitimacy of the claim and evidence presented.

The goal in a medical lawsuit is to successfully prove that the doctor or medical practitioner in question acted with negligence.  Once this is proven, the next step is for the plaintiff’s lawyer to prove the injury to the patient.  This injury can either be physical or mental/emotional.  Obviously, emotional damages are more difficult to prove.

After all the evidence and testimony is heard, the jury or the judge (depending on what type of trial it is) will spend some time reviewing both sides of the case and weighing the evidence.  A decision is then made as to whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the medical lawsuit charges.

If a guilty verdict is returned, the case will move on to the last phase: compensation.  The judge will review the evidence of loss provided by the plaintiff, such as medical bills and lost wages, and determine a suitable amount of compensation.  The defendant is ordered to pay whatever the judge determines is a fair amount


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