Chemical Burn: Baby in Intensive Care Unit
R.G. v. Georgetown University Hospital: $3.6 million verdict in District of Columbia Superior Court for a child who at age two weeks suffered a bad chemical burn from an intravenous (i.v.) line in a vein in her ankle, while in newborn intensive care for her premature birth. The i.v. was delivering liquid nutrition and antibiotics, and the chemical burn was caused when the tip of the i.v. needle migrated into the soft tissue next to the vein, allowing the caustic chemicals in the i.v. to infiltrate into the muscle and fat in her ankle. At the time of trial, R.G. was five years old with an obvious tight scar wrapping around her ankle. Because of the scar, she cannot place her right foot flat on the floor, and the affected leg has been growing more slowly than the other leg. She has required multiple medical interventions that will continue through her adolescence. At trial, we proved that the nursing staff allowed the i.v. line to go unchecked for two or more hours, causing the severity of the burn. Experts in newborn nursing and neonatology testified that these i.v. infiltrations are common in intensive care units, but when nurses check them at least once an hour and pull the i.v. out at the first sign of infiltration, the babies tolerate the infiltration with mild injuries at worst.
Read Mr. Malone’s closing argument for R.G. here.
After trial, the hospital filed a motion to throw out the verdict or to reduce the amount of damages. Read our opposition brief here. Read the trial court’s decision denying Georgetown’s motion here.
Leg Amputation – Knee Surgery (Record DC Verdict)
Robinson v. Azer and American International Orthopaedic Association: $8,350,000 verdict for a patient and his wife, a record personal injury verdict in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C., since that court in 2007 started keeping comprehensive statistics on all injury verdicts. Mr. Robinson underwent a total knee replacement surgery with Rida Azer, M.D., when he was 82 years old. A little over a month later, his leg was dead from lack of blood flow and other surgeons had to amputate it above the knee. Before the surgery, Mr. Robinson had been working full-time as an outdoor security guard near Nationals Stadium in D.C., walking a nightly beat of over five miles despite knee pain from severe arthritis which led him to seek the knee replacement. Now, despite an expensive prosthetic leg, Mr. Robinson can barely walk more than a few steps with a walker. The money will help the Robinsons relocate to a house that will accomodate his disability.
Read Mr. Malone’s opening statement for the Robinsons here, and his closing argument here.
The Malone firm worked on the case with Kenneth Trombly and Dan Singer of Trombly & Singer, DC.
Failure to Treat – Cancer
Semsker v. Lockshin: $5,805,000 verdict against a prominent dermatology practice in Silver Spring, Maryland for the death of Richard Semsker, a 47-year-old attorney who was treated at the office of Norman Lockshin, M.D., P.A., on five occasions in the fall of 2004 for growths on his back, but the dermatologist left on the back a large mole that turned into a malignant melanoma two years later. Read more case details. Read Mr. Malone’s closing argument. The trial judge made an important ruling for Maryland victims of malpractice when he refused to reduce the verdict for the artificial “cap” on damages imposed by the legislature. Read about his decision in the Maryland Daily Record article here; listen to a radio interview with Mr. Malone here.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the trial judge and re-imposed Maryland’s unfair malpractice damages “cap” on the verdict. See the discussion of why caps are unfair to victims and unwise for the safety of our health care system on our patient safety blog here. The circumstances of Mr. Semsker’s care are described in Mr. Malone’s book, The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst. Read Chapter One here.
Simpson v. Southwest Virginia Physicians for Women: Marsha Simpson went for an amniocentesis to see if her baby’s lungs were mature enough for an early delivery at 38 weeks of pregnancy. The needle caused bleeding in the unborn child, who was not delivered until eleven hours later, by which time she had lost half her blood volume, leading to brain and kidney damage to her daughter Marissa. A jury in Roanoke, Virginia returned a verdict for Marissa Simpson of $7 million and for her mother Marsha for $2 million. The money will pay for Marissa’s lifelong care, including therapies to help her speech, fine motor control, walking, and cognition. Click here to read Mr. Malone’s closing argument and rebuttal closing in this trial.
Wood v. Surgical Associates Chartered: Michael Wood underwent surgery to open a blocked artery in his shoulder, but woke up with severe damage to the main nerve controlling his hand on that side .After two more surgeries to try to repair the nerve damage, Mr. Wood still had no use of his left hand, and his ability to do two-handed tasks was ruined. Patrick Malone & Associates brought a medical malpractice suit on behalf of Mr. Wood against the surgeon who did the artery surgery and his employer at Southern Maryland Hospital, in Clinton, Maryland.
The case was an educational lesson in the vital importance of both hands to everyday tasks like buttoning clothes, spreading peanut butter on bread, and, for Mr. Wood, operating a backhoe and other heavy equipment at his construction job. A jury in Prince George’s County, Maryland Circuit Court assessed damages against the surgery group of $1,451,600.
Click here to read Mr. Malone’s closing argument. Read the opening statement at the beginning of trial here. In October 2011, the verdict was affirmed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. You can read the decision here.
Failure to Warn – Federal Tort Claims Act
Burton v. United States: Samuel Burton was a retired Coast Guard captain who sought treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he ruptured an achilles tendon playing basketball. Five weeks later, he died at home of a massive blood clot that traveled from his legs to his heart, blocking the passage to the lungs (a pulmonary embolism). His widow was shocked to learn from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy that two episodes of chest pain and shortness of breath, which Captain Burton had experienced in the weeks before his death, were signs of a potential pulmonary embolism. None of the doctors at Walter Reed had ever warned Captain Burton or his wife of this possible deadly complication and what to watch out for. She sued the government for medical malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
After a trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth issued a verdict in favor of the widow, and he ordered the government to pay her $2,080,975. Read the judge’s decision here. One important aspect of the case was the judge’s preliminary ruling before trial that Maryland law, where the couple had lived, would be applied to measure the damages for the widow’s loss of companionship and grief. The District of Columbia, where the negligent care had occurred, does not provide for such damages. Click here to read the plaintiff’s trial brief on this “choice of law” issue and to see the judge’s reasoning when he ruled in the plaintiff’s favor.
Burke v. Goodman and Groover, Christie & Merritt: $5,774,000 verdict for a 40-year-old woman who suffered a series of small strokes that went undiagnosed until she suffered a major stroke that left her with permanent cognitive deficits, inability to work, and difficulty communicating. The verdict in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C., was against a neurologist and a major group of radiologists.
Read an extended description of the case: Anatomy of a Brain Injury Lawsuit
The verdict was reduced by $1.4 million on appeal to account for Maryland’s “cap” on damages for loss of quality of life, but the verdict was otherwise affirmed. Read the D.C. Court of Appeals decision. (The official report of the decision appears at 917 A.2d 1110 (D.C. 2007).
Then a second round of legal battling began, as the radiology group refused to pay the full amount of the interest that had accrued in the three years from the verdict until the Court of Appeals’ final judgment in Ms. Burke’s favor. The trial court went along with the radiologists’ request to reduce the post-judgment interest by $167,000.
Patrick Malone appealed on Ms. Burke’s behalf, and the Court of Appeals reversed, saying the trial court had abused its discretion by cutting the interest rate solely because of the passage of time between the verdict and the final decision. Read the second Court of Appeals decision in Ms. Burke’s favor here.
Spinal Cord Injury
Blue v. Kurstin: $3 million combined settlement and verdict for our client, who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a surgeon’s order to an anesthesiologist during a hernia repair to administer a blood thinning drug shortly after the anesthesiologist had administered a spinal anesthetic to the patient. The too-quick use of the drug Lovenox caused bleeding in the spinal cord with long-lasting consequences to the patient.
The anesthesiologist settled out of court on the eve of trial and turned over to the injured patient the anesthesiologist’s cross-claim for “contribution” against the surgeon. The trial court then ruled that the surgeon was jointly responsible with the anesthesiologist for the injury, even though the anesthesiologist should have known better than to administer the drug intravenously and so soon after his anesthetic. After a long battle, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling in all respects. Read the decision here.
Nerve Injury & Chronic Pain
Garver v. Mathews: $650,000 verdict for our client, a 60-year-old spine surgeon from Connecticut, who suffered a permanent nerve injury with chronic pain syndrome as a result of improper insertion of an artificial disc in his lower spine by a surgeon in Richmond, Virginia. The defendant was an internationally famous surgeon who pioneered the development of artificial discs. According to the judge who ruled after a non-jury trial, the defendant failed to follow his own recommendations for clearing out the disc space before insertion of the artificial disc. The Virginia Supreme Court denied an appeal by Dr. Mathews.
Click here to read the trial judge’s decision.
Boone v. Goldberg: $943,000 verdict in Montgomery County, Maryland, for a 62-year-old man whose brain was punctured by an instrument during ear surgery. The surgeon denied anything had happened, and the case was proved by post-operative CT scans. View CT Scans Showing Brain Damage Caused by a Surgeon.
Read Mr. Malone’s closing argument. After a three-year battle through two appellate courts, the verdict was affirmed in its entirety by the Maryland Court of Appeals. The official decision is titled Goldberg v. Boone, and report can be found at: 393 Md. 242, 900 A.2d 749 (2006). Read the Maryland Court of Appeals Decision. The decision established new law in Maryland protecting patients’ right to be informed in advance when their surgeon lacks experience in the procedure he proposes to conduct. We have more discussion of Mr. Boone’s case on this “true story” page of our website.
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer – Wrongful Death
Greisman v. Zygler and Wister: $2 million verdict in Baltimore City Circuit Court for wrongful death of a middle-aged man from delayed diagnosis of kidney cancer.
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer
Berg v. Footer, 673 A.2d 1244 (DC 1996). Patricia Berg had regular Pap smears and a biopsy of her uterus, then learned that she had an advanced case of cancer of the cervix. Re-reading of the pathology slides showed the doctors had repeatedly missed the chance to diagnose the cancer at an early stage, and that her gynecologist had contributed to the delay by poor technique.
After settlements with a Pap smear laboratory and a hospital, the case was tried against the gynecologist with a verdict of $1.4 million. The DC Court of Appeals established new law in deciding that the gynecologist was not entitled to a full credit for the settlements paid by the other defendants, giving the Berg family a total recovery well in excess of the jury award.
Benedi v. McNeil-PPC Inc., 66 F.3d 1378 (4th Cir. 1995). Antonio Benedi lost his liver and required an emergency transplant after taking ordinary doses of Tylenol for several days. He regularly drank wine before this. The suit was brought against McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company had known since the 1970s that Tylenol (acetaminophen) taken by regular drinkers can poison the liver.
The jury awarded $7,855,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The award was affirmed on appeal in the first reported decision in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit approved punitive damages in a product liability case. A review of cases done by The Boston Globe in August 2005 confirms that this is still one of the largest collected judgments against a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Watch the ABC Prime Time Live segment on this case by clicking here.
Auto Negligence – Wrongful Death of Children
Grinder v. CLC Properties, Inc., et al. Verdict in 1989 of $2 million in auto negligence case involving deaths of two children and personal injury to mother. At the time, it was reportedly the largest verdict in a child wrongful death case in Northern Virginia. (Mr. Malone was co-counsel at the trial with Glenn Mitchell.)
Aguehounde v. District of Columbia, 666 A.2d 443 (DC 1995). Mr. Aguehounde was a pedestrian who was hit by a car in a crosswalk and rendered quadriplegic. He sued the District of Columbia government for failing to have a long enough yellow light interval to allow traffic to clear from one direction before pedestrians obtained a walk signal.
Verdict in Mr. Aguehounde’s favor was $7.9 million. On appeal, the court decided that setting traffic light timing was a discretionary function immune from suit and vacated the judgment.
Police Excessive Force – Wrongful Death
Jones v. Prince George’s County, Maryland: $3.7 million verdict for the wrongful death of Prince Jones Jr., a 25-year-old college student who was shot to death by a Prince George’s County, Maryland undercover police officer. A jury in Prince George’s County Circuit Court awarded $2.5 million to the young daughter of the deceased, Nina Jones, and $200,000 to Prince Jones’s father, both of whom were represented by Mr. Malone and his co-counsel, Terrell N. Roberts III. The jury awarded $1 million to Mabel Jones, the mother of the deceased, who had separate lawyers.
After the trial, Mr. Malone’s clients were paid $2.5 million by the county. The separate lawyers for Mabel Jones lost two subsequent appeals and their client ended up with no recovery. Read the U.S. Court of Appeals-4th Circuit’s final decision on the case here. Read Mr. Malone’s closing argument on damages here.
Consumer Rights – Mortgage
Cooper v. First Government Mortgage & Lenders Corp.: $4.5 million jury verdict in federal court in Washington, D.C., for six consumers cheated in home loans by a mortgage lender.
Mr. Malone has had a number of other cases that resolved in his clients’ favor without reaching trial. A number of these are subject to confidential settlement agreements and so cannot be reported here in detail. The cases include:
Brain Injury – Child
Lewis v. United States. Mr. Malone was hired to represent a brain-damaged child and his mother in a case against Walter Reed Army Hospital after the child’s claims had already been thrown out by the federal judge on statute of limitations grounds. Mr. Malone persuaded the judge to reverse himself. The government then settled the boy’s claims for $3 million, which fully funded a plan for his lifetime care. The decision is reported at 290 F.Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2003).
Birth Injury – Brain Damage
Duckworth v. United States. Aubrey Duckworth suffered terrible brain damage at birth at a U.S. Navy Hospital in Okinawa, Japan, due to mishandling of Pitocin by a nurse-midwife. The military paid $5 million in settlement, most of it into a trust for lifetime care needs of Aubrey. Military lawyers told the Duckworths it was the most the government has paid in a case like this.
Birth Injury – Brain Damage
Ellis v. United States – A $3.5 million settlement with the federal government on behalf of a baby who suffered neurological injuries at birth at the hospital at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer – Wrongful Death
Arbitration award just under $1 million for the family of a man who died after his lung cancer went undiagnosed for several years due to misreadings of chest X-rays by a radiologist and poor followup by the patient’s family practice doctors.
Brain Injury – Anesthesia Malpractice
Logan v. Hillview Clinic. Settlement in excess of $3 million for a woman who suffered brain damage from an anesthesia accident at an abortion clinic.
The case was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” as an example of poor care at an unlicensed facility amid pressure by pro-choice groups against any new licensing laws for abortion clinics. Read the 60 Minutes transcript here. Physician who did the abortion later lost his medical license.
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer – Misread Pap Smears
Several settlements for women and their families who, like Mrs. Berg, were victims of misread Pap smears that caused delays in discovery of cancer of the cervix, a highly curable disease in its early stages but deadly once it spreads beyond the cervix.
Medical Malpractice – Altered Records
Successful settlements for several clients who were victims of malpractice aggravated by efforts of the doctor to cover up the wrongdoing by altering his records.
Settlement against a lawyer whose negligence allowed the client to lose her inheritance to a frivolous claim in probate court.