A southwest Missouri woman has won her medical malpractice case against
a hospital and a doctor.
A Barry County jury on Nov. 1 awarded $402,853 to Linda Moody, the patient,
and her husband, Robert Moody. The defendants jurors found liable for
the verdict are Cox Monett Hospital Inc., in Monett, and that hospital's
Dr. Scott Freeland. The jury found in favor of the other defendants, St.
John's Urgent Care in Monett and that facility's doctor, Anjum Qureshi.
The case centered on the lack of an early diagnosis of the symptoms of
diverticulitis, a condition that can develop when pouches form on the
walls of the intestines.
Roger Johnson, the Joplin-based attorney for the Moodys, said a timely
diagnosis during the early stages, when there was only a partial bowel
obstruction, would have prevented complications during surgery, when the
bowel was fully obstructed. The plaintiffs argued there were enough warning
signs for a doctor to have ordered a CT scan and colonoscopy and consulted
with a specialist.
The defendants argued they met the standard of care, Johnson said, and
that even if the doctor had ordered the tests, the outcome wouldn't
Johnson gave the following account of the events leading up to the lawsuit:
Linda Moody on Oct. 24, 2007, arrived at St. John's Urgent Care clinic
in Monett, complaining of constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
and abnormal bowel movements. Qureshi saw her at the clinic, prescribed
her an antispasmodic medication and a laxative and sent her home.
On Oct. 27, 2007, Moody arrived at Cox Monett Hospital with not only the
previous symptoms, but also more severe abdominal pain, an elevated heart
rate and rapid breathing. Freeland was the treating doctor in the emergency
room, and the blood work he ordered showed an elevated white blood cell
count, among other things. Freeland then ordered an X-ray, which revealed
dilation of the transverse colon and the thickening of the ascending colon.
He sent Moody home with pain medicine and recommended she visit her primary
On Nov. 2, 2007, Moody had a CT scan at Cox Monett and the test showed
a large bowel obstruction. She went into emergency surgery, and the surgeon
found a dilated colon, a blood supply that had been compromised and an
inflamed sigmoid colon. The surgeon couldn't resect the part of the
colon that was obstructed and had to perform a colostomy. The colostomy
eventually failed, and Moody had to return to emergency surgery. The colorectal
surgeon left a wound open because the tissue was dying and infected.
The case was mediated before trial. During mediation, Cox Monett and St.
John's offered a collective $100,000, plus a waiver of Moody's
medical bills with Cox Monett, or $125,000 and no waiver. But the plaintiffs
demanded $150,000 plus forgiveness of the medical bills.
Johnson said attorneys for Cox Monett after mediation were willing to
contribute to a joint settlement of $125,000 - $75,000 from Cox Monett
and $50,000 from St. John's - plus the waiver of bills, but St. John's
The breakdown of the $402,853 verdict was $52,853 for past medical damages,
$250,000 for past non-economic damages, $50,000 for future non-economic
damages and $50,000 for loss of consortium.
The jury allocated 100 percent of the fault to Cox Monett and Freeland,
and the jury found in favor of defendants St. John's and Qureshi.
"Obviously, we were pleased the jury confirmed the care delivered
at St. John's Urgent Care was proper," said Frank Evans, the
attorney for St. John's.
David Overby, an attorney for Cox Monett and Freeland, said that in medical
malpractice trials, "no one should be shocked when they lose,"
particularly because they are working with jurors who lack a medical background
and the case can easily go either way.
Also, he said, "you don't try a case where there's no question
what the outcome is going to be."
Johnson said the verdict showed that the early medical care was inadequate.
"The jury recognized that a wrong was done to this nice lady that
should have been prevented, had the doctor paid attention to the warning
signs that existed in the hospital," he said.