Litigation

Jury Verdict Round-Up: Top 10 Medical Malpractice Verdicts of 2014

During 2014, the attorney editors on the LexisNexis Jury Verdict team covered several notable medical malpractice verdicts from across the country. This informal list of top 10 cases captured our attention, so we thought you might like to hear about them. Our list includes substantial plaintiff’s verdicts as well as impressive results in favor of the defendants. If you are interested in submitting one of your own notable verdicts, we’d be happy to include a report in our database. You can just send us an email at this address: juryverdictsubmissions@lexisnexis.com. In the meantime, please check out the highlighted cases below.

1)   Florida Federal Jury Awards Family Of Woman Who Died Of Cervical Cancer $15.6 Million Against Lab That Misread Pap Smear

John Wisekal, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Darian Wisekal, v. Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings and Glenda C. Mixon; 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3251

After Darian Wisekal had a Pap smear in August of 2008, the lab slide was sent to Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp). A LabCorp cytotechnologist erroneously interpreted the slide as "negative for intraepithelial lesion and malignancy." Darian died of cervical cancer some three years later, survived by her husband and two daughters.

John Wisekal, Darian's husband and personal representative of her estate, filed a medical malpractice/wrongful death action in a Florida state court. The action was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Florida and assigned to Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of the misread, Darian Wisekal's cancer spread and became untreatable. Defendants denied a standard of care failure and further contended that the disease which caused Darian's death was not subject to diagnosis in 2008, even if the LabCorp cytotechnologist had interpreted the relevant Pap smear as atypical. Defendants also claimed that Darian and others, including her treating physicians, contributed to any delay in the diagnosis of her cancer.

On April 16, 2014, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff, finding damages in the amount of $20,870,200 However, the jury found the LabCorp cytotechnologist, Glenda Mixon, to be 75% negligent and Darian Wisekal 25% negligent. The verdict amount after reduction for Darian's comparative negligence was $15,652,650.

2)   New York State Jury Puts City And EMS On The Hook To Pay $172 Million To Girl Who Suffered Brain Damage From EMS Negligence

Samantha Applewhite, as guardian of the person and property of Tiffany Applewhite, an incapacitated person, and Samantha Applewhite, Individually v. Accuhealth, Inc., Linda Russo, R.N., Emergency Medical Services and the City of New York; 2010 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 4165

In February of 1998, Tiffany Applewhite was a 12-year-old girl who received home nursing care from Accuhealth, Inc. and its employee, Linda Russo, R.N. On Feb. 21, 1998, Tiffany suffered an adverse reaction to a steroid shot that Russo had given her for an eye condition. Tiffany went into anaphylactic shock and her heart stopped. Tiffany's mother, Samantha Applewhite, called 911, and the City of New York sent Fire Department medics in a basic ambulance, without the advanced life support equipment she needed, including oxygen and a defibrillator. Although Samantha stated that she begged the city paramedics to take her daughter to Montefiore Hospital, which was a few minutes away, they allegedly advised her to wait for the private ambulance with advanced life support equipment. It took the ambulance 20 minutes to arrive, and Tiffany was transported to Montefiore Hospital. Tiffany suffered significant brain damage, including paralysis, but is allegedly fully aware of her surroundings and situation.

On Sept. 11, 1998, Samantha Applewhite filed an action individually and as Tiffany's guardian in the New York Supreme Court for Bronx County. She named as defendants the following: Accuhealth, Inc., Linda Russo, R.N., Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the City of New York. According to a May 29, 2014 New York Times news article, Accuhealth later filed for bankruptcy relief and Russo settled out of court following an unsuccessful bid for summary judgment dismissal. 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 9655. In addition, the City also made an unsuccessful motion for summary judgment, which was denied on the grounds that the City was not entitled to immunity from liability to persons to whom it owed a "special duty." 2013 N.Y. LEXIS 1672.

In 2014, plaintiffs' case proceeded to a jury trial on the claims against EMS and the City. On May 23, 2014, the jury returned a staggering verdict for the plaintiffs, awarding them a total of $ 172,381,728. This amount included $ 65,000,000.00 for Tiffany's past and future pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. In addition, the award included over $ 90,000,000.00 for future medical care and expense. 

3)   Connecticut State Jury Awards $12 Million In Medical Malpractice Action Alleging Perforation Of Ascending Colon During Elective Laparoscopic Hernia Repair 

Vivian Gagliano and Philip Gagliano v. Danbury Hospital, Joseph Gordon and Venkata Bodavula; 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 4589 

On May 30, 2014, a Connecticut state jury awarded $12,000,000 to Vivian and Philip Gagliano in a medical malpractice action brought after Vivian suffered a perforated colon during an elective laparoscopic hernia repair. Plaintiffs argued that the perforated colon was not timely diagnosed and treated. As a result of the alleged delay, Vivian suffered, inter alia, profound septic shock, acute respiratory failure, metabolic encephalopathy with coma, and prolonged intubation and ventilator support. 

In July of 2010, the Galianos filed suit in Danbury Superior Court against Danbury Hospital, Dr. Joseph Gordon, a surgeon, and Dr. Venkata Bodavula, a surgical resident. According news reports, claims brought against Dr. Gordon were settled before trial and on May 30, 2014, and the jury reached a finding against Danbury Hospital after about three and one-half hours of deliberations. 

4)   Florida Jury Reaches Defense Verdict In Medical Malpractice Action Alleging Delay In Diagnosis of Occluded Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

KEITH BRADFORD, Individually, and as Personal Representative of the Estate of HEATHER BRADFORD, Deceased, vs. HADI SIDDIQUI, D.O.; RENEE YOUNG, D.O., FAMILY PHYSICIAN RESIDENCY PROGRAM AT WELLINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER; and TARA LYNN STOCK, D.O; 2014 FL Jury Verdicts Rptr. LEXIS 217

Plaintiff Keith Bradford filed a complaint in Palm Beach, FL on July 26, 2011, asserting medical malpractice claims for the wrongful death of his wife, decedent Heather Bradford. Plaintiff claimed that Heather's death was caused by a delay in diagnosis of an occluded ventriculoperitoneal (vp) shunt, a device used to relieve pressure from the brain caused by fluid accumulation.

Plaintiff presented evidence that in July of 2010, Heather Bradford presented to Wellington Regional Medical Center with signs and symptoms allegedly consistent with an occluded vp shunt, including, but not limited to, headache, nausea and vomiting and drooping eye. She was admitted to the hospital and a CT scan was performed. Ultimately, the occlusion of the vp shunt caused a herniation in the brain of Heather Bradford which caused her death within 24 hours. 

Plaintiff claimed that defendants, Drs. Siddiqui, Young, and Stock, who were residents/interns at the time, were negligent in failing to consult a neurosurgeon to evaluate Heather and/or the CT scan. The defense argued that Drs. Siddiqui, Young, and Stock had relied on the reading of the CT scan by Dr. Laura Kunberger, who allegedly failed to detect that fluid was building up in Heather Bradford's brain. 

On March 21, 2014, the jury reached a verdict for the defense. 

5)   Alabama Jury Reaches Defense Verdict In Suit Alleging Failure To Properly Treat Pre-Term Labor 

MEREDITH BEATRICE HARDY, Individually, and in the Capacity of Mother and Next Friend of her Deceased Infant Children, vs. DIANA DECOTIS-SMITH, M.D.; STEPHEN VARNER, M.D.; COURTNEY MEREDITH, M.D.; FRANK L. BODIE, M.D.; BRET HENDERSON, M.D.; et al., (Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama); 2014 AL Civil Trial Rptr. LEXIS 175 

On Dec. 17, 2010, plaintiff Meredith Beatrice Hardy was admitted to University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital while 17 weeks pregnant with triplets through IVF and with a chief complaint of vaginal bleeding. All three fetuses were delivered on Dec. 24, 2010. Plaintiff claimed that a Foley catheter was improperly placed by nursing staff into her vagina and then into her urethra, causing an infection. Plaintiff claimed that after the first fetus was delivered stillborn, the other two fetuses could have been saved if defendant Dr. Stephen Varner had not ruptured the amniotic sacs of the other two fetuses and had cut the umbilical cord of the first fetus, causing unnecessary delivery and allowing them to pass through the birth canal that had been infected by the first fetus. Plaintiff also claimed that Dr. Varner failed to treat her urinary tract infection before discharging her on Dec. 26, 2010. Likewise, plaintiff claimed that Dr. Decotis-Smith was negligent in performing a speculum exam without plaintiff's informed consent and in failing to perform an emergency cerclage. Plaintiff included herself, a nurse, as well as her husband, an internal medicine physician, as expert witnesses in a Rule 26 Disclosure, to which defendants objected.

Following the August 2013 dismissals of Dr. Bodie and Dr. Henderson, the action proceeded to trial in Mobile, AL on the claims against Dr. Decotis-Smith and Dr. Varner. Judge Charles E. Graddick presided. The jury reached a verdict for the defense. 

6)   Georgia Jury Awards $8.4 Million In Medical Malpractice Action Brought On Behalf Of Infant Who Suffered Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury At Birth 

J.M., a Minor by his Mother and Next Friend, Heather Medley, v. Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Inc., The Longstreet Clinic, P.C., Ruth Sherry, CNM; 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 9470

On Nov. 15, 2008, Heather Medley was admitted to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center for delivery of a full-term baby. The labor continued throughout the evening and Medley delivered J.M. around noon the next day. The delivery was overseen by Ruth Sherry, CNM. Sherry was employed by The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. For several hours prior to the delivery, J.M.'s heart rate was noted as decelerating and variable. J.M. was born severely depressed, with low APGAR scores and metabolic acidosis. He was not intubated for 8 minutes, and he continued to deteriorate, a full code ensued, and resuscitation occurred. Ultimately, J.M. was diagnosed with a hypoxic ischemic brain injury and developed, inter alia, cerebral palsy.

On May 11, 2012, Heather Medley filed a medical malpractice action on behalf of her child, J.M., in the Georgia State Court for Hall County. Medley named the following as defendants: Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Inc., The Longstreet Clinic, P.C., and Ruth Sherry, CNM. Subsequently, J.M.'s grandmother, Rachel Lewis was substituted as plaintiff.

The matter proceeded to a jury trial in late 2014. On Oct. 20, the jury returned a verdict in J.M.'s favor. On Oct. 23, 2014, Judge B.E. Roberts, III entered judgment in plaintiff's favor, awarding $ 8,455,597.00. The judgment indicated that the jury had found liability against only Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Inc. 

7)   Illinois State Jury Awards Nearly $2 Million To Man Who Alleged Surgeon Negligently Removed His Only Remaining Testicle During Hernia Surgery

Carl Edwards v. Ramon Manglano, M.D. and Pronger Smith Medical Care, L.L.P; 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 10909

On July 19, 2007, Carl Edwards, a 35-year-old man, was admitted to St. Francis     Hospital & Health Center to undergo a surgical repair of a left inguinal hernia. Years prior to this procedure, Edwards had his right testicle surgically removed as the result of testicular torsion. During this procedure to repair the Plaintiff's left inguinal hernia, surgeon Ramon Manglano, M.D. removed the Edwards' only remaining testicle.

In 2009, Edwards filed a medical malpractice action against defendants, Ramon Manglano, M.D. and Pronger Smith Medical Care, L.L.P., in the Illinois Circuit Court for Cook County, Illinois. Edwards alleged that Manglano failed to perform an adequate physical examination prior to surgery. He further maintained that Manglano had removed the left testicle when there was no legitimate medical reason to do so and without obtaining appropriate consent. As a result of the alleged negligence, Edwards and his wife could no longer have children and Edwards was left with a testosterone deficiency resulting in increased fatigue and sweating and a decreased libido.

The defendants argued that the Dr. Manglano acted as a reasonably careful physician because he was given the wrong history, the testicle he found was small and in an abnormal location and was therefore at an increased risk for testicular cancer and likely not functioning properly, and that the consent form allowed for an extension of the original procedure for the well-being of the patient based on the physician's professional judgment.

On May 2, 2014, the matter proceeded to a jury trial over which Judge Thomas V. Lyons presided. On May 9, 2014, the jury returned a verdict in plaintiff's favor, awarding him $ 1,810,000.00. The verdict included the following allocation of damages: disfigurement - $ 175,000.00, disability - $ 1,250,000.00, and pain and suffering - $ 385,000.00.

8)   Tennessee State Jury Awards $3.25 Million In Parents' Wrongful Death And Medical Malpractice Action Arising From Death Of 25-Year-Old Daughter Given Intravenous Fluid Without Proper Monitoring 

Darrell and Teresa Hurley, Individually and as Natural Parents of Valerie Leann Hurley (deceased) v. Michael S. Schroeder, M.D., Ketan S. Hira, M.D., Ileana Munteanu, M.D., Emergency Coverage Corporation, Summit Medical Group, PLLC, and Mercy Health System, Inc., D/B/A Mercy Medical Center North; 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 4820

On March 1, 2009, Valerie Hurley, 25 years old, was taken to the emergency room at St. Mary's Medical Center North complaining of nausea, vomiting and syncope. She was found to have low blood pressure and complained of head, chest, and abdomen pain. Miss Hurley was initially treated with the administration of intravenous fluid and medications and was admitted the following day to the medical/surgical floor. The administering of intravenous fluid was continued. Miss Hurley was allegedly exposed to an excessive amount of isotonic fluid. Miss Hurley complained of her continuing pain, nausea, shortness of breath and chest pain for about six hours after being admitted to the medical/surgical floor. She was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. on March 3, 2009. It was alleged that Miss Hurley's heart and lungs were overloaded by a viral infection that inflamed tissue around her heart and the amount of fluid she received, according to a July 2, 2014 Knoxville News- Sentinel (Tennessee) article.

On May 14, 2010, Darrell and Teresa Hurley, Individually and as Natural Parents of Valerie Leann Hurley (deceased), filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Knox County Tennessee, alleging wrongful death and negligence. The complaint was brought against Michael S. Schroeder, M.D., the emergency room physician; Ketan S. Hira, M.D., the admitting physician; Ileana Munteanu, M.D., an associate of Dr. Hira who allegedly ordered the continuation of intravenous fluid; Emergency Coverage Corporation, the alleged employer of Dr. Schroeder; Summit Medical Group, PLLC, and Mercy Health Partners, Inc., the medical facility allegedly responsible for the primary care and treatment of Miss Hurley during her hospitalization. Mr. and Mrs. Hurley sought, among other things, to recover for Miss Hurley's pain, suffering and anguish, loss of the future earning capacity, loss of the pecuniary value of life; loss of consortium; medical, funeral and burial expenses; and severe mental anguish and loss of companionship and society of their daughter.

Judge Harold Wimberly presided over a jury trial. On the tenth day of trial on June 27, 2014, the jury found that the hospital was responsible and affixed damages at $ 3,250,000. The jury also found that Drs. Schroeder, Hira, and Munteanu were not responsible. 

9)   Illinois State Jury Awards $13,921,000 To Patient Who Suffered Debilitating Stroke Following Ingestion Of Yasmin Despite Contraindications

Mariola Zapalski and Rafal Zapalski v. Resurrection Medical Center, Zbigniew Aniol, M.D., S.C., a corporation; and Zbigniew Aniol, M.D; 2011 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 201289

On Sept. 26, 2007, 37-year-old Mariola Zapalski went to Zbigniew Aniol, M.D. with complaints of heavy bleeding for more than two weeks. She was a smoker of 5 to 6 cigarettes a day, was obese, and had hyperlipidemia. Aniol diagnosed her with menorrhagia, heavy menstrual bleeding. She returned on Oct. 3, 2007 for further testing. On Oct. 18, 2007, Zapalski called Aniol's offices with complaints of continuing bleeding. Aniol recommended either the birth-control pill Yasmin or surgical treatment of a dilation and curettage. Zapalski chose Yasmin. According to Zapalski, Aniol never offered or informed her about the option for a progesterone only pill, but only suggested the estrogen-containing Yasmin. On Nov. 1, 2007, after 13 days on Yasmin, Zapalski had a stroke. As a result of the stroke, Zapalski lost motor-function on her right side, suffered permanent cognitive impairments, is wheel-chair bound, and requires 24-hour care.

Zapalski and her husband Rafal Zapalski brought an action in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois against Resurrection Healthcare Corporation, Resurrection Medical Center, Resurrection Physicians Provider Group, Inc., Zbigniew Aniol, M.D., S.C., a corporation, and Zbigniew Aniol, M.D. On Sept. 25, 2009, plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint. In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Aniol was medically negligent by failing to appreciate the risks factors of her smoking and age and health and was otherwise careless and negligent. Rafal alleged a claim for loss of consortium.

Resurrection Medical Center settled with plaintiffs prior to trial according to news reports. The action proceeded to jury trial against Aniol and Zbigniew Aniol, M.D., S.C. beginning on April 4, 2014 before Judge Edward Washington, II. On April 18, 2014, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs and against Aniol and Zbigniew Aniol, M.D., S.C. for $ 13,921,000.00. The award to Mariola Zapalski was for $ 13,421,000, which included $ 500,000 disfigurement, $ 521,000 past medical care, $ 6,900,000 future medical care, $ 2,500,000 disability (past and future), $ 2,500,000 pain and suffering (past and future), $ 500,000 emotional distress (past and future). The award to Rafal Zapalski was for $ 100,000 loss of services and $ 400,000 loss of consortium.

10) Ohio Jury Awards $14.5 Million In Medical Malpractice Action Arising     From Preterm Labor And Baby's Resulting Brain Hemorrhage

A.J., By and Through His Parent, Natural Guardian and Next Friend, Stephanie Stewart, and Stephanie Stewart, Individually v. MetroHealth Medical Center and Steven A. Weight, M.D; 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 5593

In March of 2003, Stephanie Stewart was admitted to MetroHealth Medical Center on several occasions due to preterm labor. The labor was stopped with medication and bed rest. On April 10, 2003, Stewart again went into labor and gave birth to A.J. at about 25 weeks of gestation. Dr. Steven A. Weight was the attending physician. A.J. suffered a brain hemorrhage, resulting in cerebral palsy, cognitive delays, visual impairments and other issues that will require lifelong care.

On April 7, 2004, Stewart filed a medical malpractice action against MetroHealth Medical Center and Steven A. Weight, M.D. She then voluntarily dismissed the action without prejudice on Sept. 19, 2006. On June 9, 2011, she filed a second action against MetroHealth and Dr. Weight in the Ohio Common Pleas Court for Cuyahoga County. Stewart, who brought the action individually and on A.J.'s behalf, asserted claims for medical negligence, lack of informed consent, loss of consortium, and the unconstitutionality of the application of Ohio Civil Rule 10 to her claims.

The action proceeded to an 11-day jury trial. On June 10, 2014, the jury reached a verdict in plaintiffs' favor, awarding them a total of $ 14,500,000.00. 

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