Oregon State Jury Awards $ 4.5 Million To Young Couple After Botched Spinal Surgery Caused Pelvic/Genital Numbness And Pain
On Oct. 2, 2013, Warren G. Roberts, M.D. performed spinal surgery on Jason Croff at the Aspen Spine and Neurosurgery Center, P.C. Croff had been experiencing pain and numbness. Croff asserted that after the surgery, his spinal and sacral nerves were permanently damaged, he developed pain, cauda equine syndrome, numbness in his genitalia, perineum, and legs, sexual dysfunction, and delayed bladder emptying. He subsequently required a second operation and continued medical treatment.
On June 30, 2015, Jason Croff and his wife Kassandra Croff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon, for the County of Multnomah against Roberts and Aspine Spine. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants were negligent in that they failed to remove a protruding disc at L4/5; failed to remove a large protruding disc at L5/S1; failed to decompress the spine at L4/5 and L5/S1; fractured the inferior aspect of the spinous process of L4; failed to diagnose to fractured the spinous process of L4; failed to timely diagnose his post-operative wound infection; and in failing to debride, drain, and treat the infection. Jason, who was 29, claimed economic damages for medical treatment and lost earning capacity of $ 400,000 and non-economic damages of $ 3,500,000. Kassandra alleged claims for loss of intimate life and sought non-economic damages of $ 1,000,000. Plaintiffs also sought costs and expenses of the action. On Oct. 5, 2015, defendants filed an answer generally denying the allegations and asserting affirmative defenses including statutory limits to non-economic damages, comparative negligence, and reservation of rights.
The action proceeded to a jury trial before Judge John A. Wittmayer. On Aug. 2, 2017, the jury returned a verdict finding that defendants were negligent in failing to decompress Croff's spine at the L5/S1 level; failing to advise plaintiffs to watch for signs of cauda equine syndrome; failing to do a complete neurological exam in November and December of 2013; and in failing to review the records from another medical center on Oct. 2, 2013, but not for failure to diagnose and treat the post-operative surgical wound. The jury found that defendants' negligence, except for the failure to complete neurological exam in November and December of 2013 was the cause of damages to plaintiffs. The jury awarded economic damages of $ 93,808.55 and non-economic damages of $ 3,500,000 to Jason and $ 1,000,000 to Kassandra, for a total of $ 4,593,808. The verdict, entered on Aug. 4, 2017, faces reduction because of Oregon’s $500,000 cap on plaintiffs’ non-economic damages. Post-trial motions are pending.
Plaintiff was represented by David K. Miller of Miller & Wagner LLP. Defendant was represented by John E. Pollino of Garrett, Hemann, Robertson, PC.
Lexis Advance Subscribers may view the complete summary, including expert information, here: Jason Croff and Kassandra Croff v. Warren G. Roberts, M.D. and Aspen Spine and Neurosurgery Center, P.C; 2017 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 2446.
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