Appellate Court Upholds $21 Million Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion that upheld a jury verdict of upwards of $21 million in a medical malpractice case. In upholding the jury’s liability and damages determinations, the court rejected all of the defendant doctor’s claims of error below. As a result of the court’s ruling, the plaintiff will receive the award as delivered by the jury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a woman who died while undergoing a medical procedure that was conducted by the defendant doctor. The plaintiff’s wife was seeing the defendant doctor for chronic back pain. The doctor recommended she undergo an epidural steroid injection procedure to reduce inflammation and relieve her pain. The procedure consisted of the localized delivery of steroids directly into the spine.

The plaintiff’s wife arrived with her daughter-in-law at 10:00 a.m. She was seen by the nurse at 2:45 p.m., when she was prepped for the procedure. Afterwards, she took a nap while she was waiting for the procedure to begin. Immediately before the procedure, she was provided fentanyl and versed, which were to help with any pain and assist in relaxation. The procedure began at 5:45 p.m.

During the procedure, there were several indications that the patient was not doing well. Equipment showed that her oxygen level was dropping and that her pulse was slowing. The surgical technician asked the doctor if she should call 911, and the doctor responded “no.” Concerned for the patient’s safety, the technician then sent a text message to another doctor, stating “Come.” When the second doctor arrived, the defendant had the patient face down, trying to keep her airways open. Again, the doctor dismissed the concerns of others and continued with the procedure.

When the procedure was over, the patient was unresponsive. Eventually, 911 was called, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived. The doctor told the EMTs that the procedure had gone fine and that she was just having a hard time waking up from the anesthesia. As it turns out, the plaintiff’s wife did not recover and was taken to the hospital. It was later determined that the plaintiff’s wife had suffered a catastrophic brain injury after being oxygen deprived. She remained cognitively impaired and a quadriplegic until her death six years later.

After a jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded over $21 million in compensatory damages. While the jury determined that the doctor was liable for punitive damages, it opted not to issue punitive damages under the circumstances. The doctor appealed, but each claim of error was dismissed on appeal.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience holding doctors responsible for their mistakes. We understand that most mistakes can be prevented with the exercise of due care, and we do everything we can to help our clients seek the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

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