A Buchanan County, Missouri jury returned a verdict of $2.75 million against a hospital who provided below-standard care for a woman who was treated for injuries from a minor car accident. She ended up paralyzed from her injuries. DBJ also earned the woman $2 million in settlement from the neurosurgeon who failed to perform emergency surgery when doing so could have saved her from paralysis.
When the plaintiff arrived at the hospital, it was determined that she had a broken vertebra that was pressing against her spinal cord. She had feeling in and could move her legs, feet, and toes.
The attending neurosurgeon decided to delay the operation to relieve pressure on the spinal canal until the following Monday, when another neurosurgeon was returning from vacation. The nurses were supposed to monitor her for signs of neurological deterioration. Emergency surgery would be performed if necessary.
The plaintiff’s condition worsened and no surgery was performed. As a result, she is a paraplegic. Plaintiff claimed the nurses were negligent in not noticing her neurological deterioration, the doctor was negligent in failing to perform immediate surgery or transfer her, and the hospital was negligent because the doctor was acting as its agent.
Prior to trial, plaintiff’s attorneys, Grant L. Davis and Scott S. Bethune of DBJ negotiated a settlement of $2 million with the attending neurosurgeon. At trial, the jury apportioned 50% of the fault to the neurosurgeon and 50% to the hospital. Because both defendants were found to be at fault, joint and several liability applies and the hospital is responsible for the entire $2.75 million verdict.
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