Articles Posted in Malpractice Verdicts

Plastic surgery malpractice cases are extremely difficult to win not because malpractice in plastic surgery is rare but because it is incredibly difficult to prove. We have never taken a plastic surgery malpractice case and probably never will.

So credit is due to a New Jersey plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyer who won a jury verdict in an eye surgery case. The case involves a blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery that basically makes your eyes look younger.

Defendant’s medical malpractice lawyer showed the generosity of spirit for which malpractice defense lawyers are known, when he pointed out in a statement after the verdict that the woman had plastic surgery on 10 previous occasions. What exactly is this lawyer’s point? You just lost a case – a zero offer case, by the way. After getting beat, do you really have to go after the plaintiff? What exactly is the point that is made here? She had 10 good procesures so what is one bad one? She should not be getting more plastic surgery? Than why did this doctor agree to do it? Oh, who cares? The important thing was to try to publicly embarrass the Plaintiff. Well, then, mission accomplished.

A hospital leaves a 4-inch-long piece of plastic tubing inside an infant boy at birth. The child may have a permanent injury. What should the verdict be? How much is that medical malpractice lawsuit worth?

If a potential client called our law firm and asked that question, I would say I have absolutely no idea. There are just too many details you would need to know. To start, does it mean the child may have an injury? Do you know? If you don’t, what are the odds the injury is permanent? Another incredibly important question: was the child in pain and if so, for how long? What are the past and expected future medical bills? Why did this mistake happen? Who made it?

The first paragraph is a fact pattern of a case that was decided recently in Washington State. The jury awarded $257,000 in this malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

A Baltimore City jury last week awarded $4.1 million for a birth injury to a now 8-year-old boy. Plaintiff’s lawsuit claimed the child’s cerebral palsy was caused by negligence before and during delivery of the child at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

This is a big verdict, much of it in economic damages. If it stands, the award will be reduced to $3.6 million after the cap on noneconomic damages.

Congratulations to plaintiff’s malpractice lawyer Keith Foreman, a former student of mine at the University of Baltimore School of Law. The Maryland Daily Record provides more details.

Good doctors commit malpractice less often than bad doctors. But sometimes, very meritorious medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland are brought against very good doctors who made a very unfortunate mistake.

In Florida last week, an appeals court affirmed a $2.15 million verdict that has ballooned to $4.3 million because the case is 17 years old. The verdict was against a hip specialist who has operated on the likes of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler, golfer Greg Norman, hockey star Mario Lemieux and Olympic skater Tara Lipinski. Pretty impressive group.

But in this case, a young woman cannot walk without a cane because the doctor gouged the smooth lining of her hip joint trying to repair an injury in 1997.

An Illinois woman who lost her unborn baby and a small intestine after being admitted to a hospital was awarded an $11.5 million judgment Tuesday by a DuPage County jury. The jury deliberated for about five hours before awarding awarding the mom $10.5 million for her injuries and $1 million for the death of her unborn child (presumably her husband was a plaintiff in this claim as well).

The hospital named in the lawsuit showed real class after the verdict was announced:

We are disappointed with the verdict, but continue to respect the jury system. [The Hospital] is committed to providing the finest care to all of its patients. We wish the best for [the plaintiff and her husband].

Metro Verdicts Monthly and the Maryland Daily Record report on a $4,947,837 verdict in Montgomery County for a young woman claiming medical malpractice caused her nerve and spinal injuries. The jury awarded $2.5 million for lost wages, $276,000 for medical expenses, $675,000 for loss of consortium, and $2.1 for non-economic damages (which will be reduced to the malpractice cap).

The claim of medical negligence was atypical, particularly for a successful case: the lawsuit claimed negligent manipulation, high-velocity neck-twist caused the injuries. The issue in the case boiled down to whether the doctor, a D.O., was negligent in his manipulation of her neck and whether there was informed consent of the patient. The manipulation apparently caused an internal disc disruption at C5 and damage to the dorsal scapular nerve of her brachial plexus.

The verdict was what it was because Plaintiff was a young woman with significant future lost wages because she was unable to return to work as a physical therapist. It also sounds like she was an appealing plaintiff: she was a triathlete that had been on the swimming and cycling teams at Michigan State University.

This month’s Metro Verdicts Monthly provides the median verdict/settlement in Maryland wrongful death cases for victims over the age of 65 is $600,000.

I always caution about misleading figures but this number is beyond misleading (through no fault of MVM). The data measures Maryland wrongful death settlements and verdicts in the last 23 years and ostensibly includes only cases of which Metro Verdicts Monthly is aware and, with respect to wrongful death settlements, it is not just medical malpractice cases and many wrongful death settlements in car accident cases are purely a function of the insurance policies available (sometimes in malpractice cases, too, but much less frequently).

Also, keep in mind this data includes settlements, which apparently reduce the numbers significantly. In another MVM study, juries have over the last 22 years awarded a median award of $1,337,824 involving victims over the age of 65 in Maryland wrongful death cases.

I wrote last week about the re-trial of a medical malpractice case in Illinois that discussed the issue of juror misconduct. You can find the article on the verdict here.

After that post, the jury reached a defense verdict after about two hours of deliberation.
It is hard to win a case you have already lost on juror misconduct because unless the lawyers dramatically alter their strategy, a pretty good “focus group” has already given their opinion on the case.

A recent Jury Verdict Research study looking at jury verdicts found that the average wrongful death verdict for men is $4,132,576 and the median is $1,400,000. The average wrongful death verdict for woman is $3,158,223 and the median is $1,200,000.

It is tempting to look at these numbers and provide an easy answer to the discrepancy: men make more than women. But the average wrongful death verdict for a male minor is $4,300,663 (median is $2,000,000) and the average verdict for female minors is 3,438,080 ($1,500,000 median). So it seems pretty clear that, for whatever reason, jurors place a higher value on wrongful death cases involving men and boys than women and girls.

Medical malpractice verdicts made up 36% of the verdicts in this study. Of course, this does not count settlements in wrongful death cases nor does it count defense verdicts. Certainly, when you are factoring in the settlement value of a medical malpractice case, you also need to consider Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages because in most Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, the cap on damages is not going to give the victim’s family much more than $1.5 million unless the economic damages (medical bills and/or past and future lost wages) are significant.