A five-week-long medical malpractice trial concluded when a jury awarded a young Connecticut woman nearly $25 million after a surgeon failed to diagnose a blood clot in a timely manner resulting in the woman's leg being amputated.
The plaintiff was 18 years old and a recent high school graduate in 2009 when she sought treatment at Griffin Hospital in Derby for an asthma attack. While she was there, emergency room doctors became concerned about numbness and pain the former high school athlete had in her leg. A test showed a blood clot. The small community hospital did not have a vascular surgeon on staff, so they phoned their on-call specialist, Dr. Marsel Huribal, an employee at Southern Connecticut Vascular Center, according to court testimony.
Given her condition, the woman should have been admitted to the hospital that day, according to her attorney. Instead, the surgeon, consulting via telephone, ordered another test and made an appointment for her at his office three days later. After she was released from the hospital emergency room, the young woman's condition worsened and she had to have her left leg amputated below the knee.
According to the lawsuit, after the woman lost her leg, she had to endure a prolonged hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation, which led to depression and social isolation as well as pain and suffering.
Before the trial started, the woman and her attorney offered to settle the case out of court for $1 million. The doctor refused the offer.
In October, the jury awarded the woman $24.9 million in actual damages -- $4.2 million for economic damages such as medical expenses and $20.7 for “pain, suffering and reduced ability to fully participate in everyday life.” The amputation also will affect her earning capacity, according to the lawsuit.
Damages refers to the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of a duty or violation of a right. Actual damages refers to the money awarded to compensate for losses, also called compensatory damages. The amount is based on the harm, loss or injury suffered by the plaintiff. Actual damages do not include punitive damages, which may be awarded when the defendant's actions are especially reckless or malicious. As the name implies, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for harmful behavior.
The six-member jury found the doctor was 60 percent responsible. The jury also found the Vascular Center negligent in the treatment of the woman. The doctor's attorney said he is appealing the verdict. The woman had previously settled a lawsuit against Griffin Hospital for an undisclosed amount.
If you have been injured as a result of negligence by a medical professional or if a loved one has died, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.