Medical Malpractice Verdict:
4 Top Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Verdicts of 2014
Medical Malpractice Verdict 1: Jury gives $32.M to girl in Chesco medical malpractice case
This medical malpractice verdict was discussed in a blog we wrote at the end of last year. A Chester County Court jury has awarded $32.8 million to a 4-year-old girl, concluding that she suffered brain damage at birth because nurses at Phoenixville Hospital failed to alert doctors about changes in her condition. Lilly developed spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy after Proffitt went into labor on Nov. 14, 2009, at Phoenixville Hospital. The family’s lawyer said two nurses who came to the room when the baby’s heart rate dropped failed to alert doctors for 13 minutes. According to personal injury case documents, due to other delays, Lilly was not delivered until about 30 minutes after that, resulting in the loss of oxygen and brain damage. After a two-week trial, the jury found that two nurses were negligent when they waited 13 minutes to tell doctors that Lilly Ciechoski’s heart rate had dropped, the family’s lawyer said. The same jury found that a third nurse and the hospital were not to blame for the girl’s injuries. The $32.8 million personal injury case verdict was among the highest ever given by a jury in the county, according to the family’s lawyer. Most of it will help pay for her future medical expenses. “This [verdict] definitely helps put her at an advantage because now we can get everything she needs,” Proffitt said. “We don’t have to come to a point where we have to say, ‘We can’t do that because we can’t afford it.’ ”
Medical Malpractice Verdict 2: $3.5 Million for Loss of Leg due to Uncontrolled Bedsores
John Scrima and his wife were awarded a $3.5 million medical malpractice verdict for loss of leg due to uncontrolled bedsores. 68-year-old John Scrima was diagnosed with cauda equia syndrome and underwent emergency back surgery on April 4, 2010 at UPMC Mercy Hospital. Scrima’s surgery went well and his prognosis was listed as “good.” While recovering, however, Scrima was left on a bedpan, which caused a large pressure ulcer on his coccyx.
Scrima was transferred to the hospital’s inpatient-rehab facility a few days after the discovery of the pressure ulcer. A nurse noted his wound, and found a pressure ulcer on Scrima’s right heel, but the facility did not treat the wound. Six more days passed before Scrima received any care to his two pressure ulcers. Approximately eight days later, John Scrima lost the function of his right leg because the open wound impacted a nerve. The wound then became infected with fecal material, requiring further care. What was originally scheduled to be a ten to fourteen day rehabilitation period had developed into a four-month hospitalization.
Unfortunately, this was just the beginning. Scirma developed MRSA and osteomyelitis in his right heel, which required surgery to remove part of his heel bone. Scrima endured ten separate surgeries to attempt to save his foot. Due to the IV treatment for the bone infection, Scrima suffered near renal-failure and had to choose between continuing treatment to save his foot or dialysis to save his kidneys. He elected to save his kidneys and thus underwent a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.
John Scrima sued UPMC Mercy Hospital alleging that the hospital and its nursing staff failed to prevent the pressure ulcers from developing and failed to provide proper and timely care after his wounds were discovered..
After a two week trial, the jury held UPMC negligent and that its negligence was the factual cause of injury to Plaintiff. Plaintiffs were awarded a total of $3.5 million in damages, consisting of nearly $2.5 million to Plaintiff and just over $1 million to his wife.
Medical Malpractice Verdict 3: $750K awarded in suit against Ridley Park Swim Club
A Philadelphia woman was recently awarded a $750,000 medical malpractice verdict by a jury in a civil suit for injuries she sustained while visiting Ridley Park Swim Club in 2010.
69-year-old Maryann Dunlap of the 6500 block of Windsor street, suffered a broken hip and knee after being struck by a falling tree in the parking lot of the club on June 24, 2010, according to a complaint filed in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
The dead tree was on an adjoining property, not on Swim Club grounds. Arborist Howard Eyre testified that the tree that had fallen on Dunlap had likely been dead for years, which could have been spotted and remedied if the club brought in an expert to inspect the trees surrounding the property.
Eyre said he believed the tree that hit Dunlap was pulled down by heavy grape vines, a danger that should have been evident even to people who are not professionals in his field. At least two trees had fallen onto the swim club property over the past ten years.
Swim Club Board Member John Cardow said he regularly inspected trees on the adjoining property and had seen a handful over the years that appeared to be in a dangerous condition. While he knew such a tree could cause injury to visitors, Cardow said the board never hired an arborist.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning a verdict in favor of Dunlap.
Medical Malpractice Verdict 4: $800,000 Verdict in Wrongful Death case where a lack of monitoring resulted in a patient’s death
On January 21, 2014, Robert Cole and his wife Judy Cole obtained an $800,000 medical malpractice verdict following a six day trial in Allegheny County.
Cole died on March 7, 2008 hours after undergoing a bronchoscopy. Shortly after the surgery, Cole began developing a cough and significant shortness of breath. He went to his family physician, who suspected that Cole had developed some type of respiratory complication. Cole was then admitted to St. Claire hospital.
On his third day at St. Clair, a doctor performed a bronchoscopy procedure on Cole. This procedure involved inserting a thin, flexible tube into Cole’s lungs. The doctor also performed a biopsy, taking small samples of lung tissue. During the procedure and for roughly one and a half hours afterward, Cole was closely monitored.
Despite recognizing that Mr. Cole may have developed a serious, potentially life threatening pulmonary condition and that the bronchoscopy and related biopsy could cause his pulmonary condition to suddenly worsen hours after the procedure, after one and a half hours the doctor ordered that Mr. Cole be placed in a hospital room without any monitoring. The cardiac and respiratory monitors were taken off. One hour later, a nurse found Mr. Cole, lying sideways in his bed, struggling to breathe. A code was called, but it was too late. Cole suffered a respiratory arrest and died.
After a six day trial, an Allegheny County jury awarded$400,000 in wrongful death and $400,000 in survival claim damages, for a total verdict award of $800,000.