Brody Kendrick Birth Injury in Southwest MO
Parties: Chittenden v. CoxHealth
Facts/Claims: Brody Kendrick was born Sept. 24, 2014 at Lester E. Cox Medical Centers in Springfield. According to Johnson, the suit alleged that his mother, Katheryn Chittenden, was given too much of the labor-inducing drug Pitocin, causing deceleration of the baby’s heart rate that ultimately led to an “acute catastrophic hypoxic event” that damaged his brain.
Johnson alleged that medical staff didn’t respond appropriately to Kendrick’s fetal heart tracings, which he said indicated the baby was suffering from hypoxia. The suit also alleged that, after Kendrick was born, nursing staff compounded the problem by attempting to feed him from a cup, even though he couldn’t handle it.
Brian Malkmus of the Malkmus Law Firm, who represented CoxHealth, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Johnson described the defendant as having “fought everything, conceded nothing.” He said defense experts testified that the fetal heart tracing readings looked fine and argued that the baby’s brain injuries had occurred at some point before his mother went to the hospital for the birth. Johnson said Kendrick is unable to crawl or walk and suffers from cognitive issues. Nonetheless, the boy brings joy to his family despite the challenges of caring for him, the attorney said.
“He’s got a big smile on his face 90 percent of the time,” Johnson said.
The award included $13.8 million in past and future noneconomic damages. Although that exceeds the state’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, Johnson said it should not apply because Kendrick’s injury occurred before that law went into effect in 2015.
-Excerpt from Missouri Lawyers Weekly, by Scott Lauck (molawyersmedia.com)
Bonetti Chef Post-Surgery Death
Parties: Gregory Bonetti & Brigitte Bonetti v. Southwest Emergency Physicians of Memphis LLC & Peter McCarthy, MD
Facts/Claims: The family of a chef to celebrities and a U.S. president won $1 million for his death after a post-operative emergency room visit.
Marcel Bonetti, 73, was head chef of the Pro Bass Shops in Springfield and then personal chef for the company’s founder, Johnny Morris. Bonetti died in October 2016 after surgery for an umbilical hernia repair at Barnes St. Peter Hospital in Springfield.
A jury took three-and-a-half hours to reach its decision after a two-week trial. The panel found emergency room doctor Peter McCarthy and his employer Southwest Emergency Physicians of Memphis negligent for failure to treat Bonetti correctly for dehydration, which set off a chain of medical problems that ultimately killed him, said plaintiffs’ lawyer Patrick Martucci of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci in Joplin.
Had McCarthy ordered a CT scan, fluids and sought a surgical consultation in Bonetti’s case, Martucci said, the doctor would have discovered Bonetti was experiencing early ischemia, which is decreased or blocked blood flow to the intestines caused by dehydration. Bonetti’s wife and three adult children obtained a private autopsy. Connecting the dots between surgery, subsequent emergency room and doctor’s visits, a second surgery and death was the biggest challenge, Martucci said.
“[Bonetti’s relatives] were assured there was nothing wrong,” Martucci said. “They watched him decline before their very eyes.”
The lead attorney for the defense, Joseph C. Blanton of Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen in Sikeston, declined to comment.
Despite an uncomplicated surgery, Bonetti started going downhill and returned to the emergency room two days later with severe abdominal pain, nausea and increasing respiratory and heart rates, Martucci said. McCarthy ordered an X-ray that showed what might have been a small bowel obstruction, but McCarthy determined it was an ileus, a common post-operative intestinal blockage. He prescribed nausea medication and said to drink more fluids. McCarthy did not order blood work, consult a surgeon or investigate the reasons for Bonetti’s higher heart rate, Martucci said.
Bonetti made an emergency trip to his surgeon’s office two days later, in worse pain from a distended abdomen and shortness of breath. The surgeon on call in the office diagnosed him again with an ileus. Later the same day he went back to the emergency room with the same complaints and “unrelenting vomiting,” according to a summary by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
On this trip, a CAT scan showed ischemia and a grossly enlarged stomach. Bonetti’s stomach was intubated to drain its contents, but the tube ended up in his esophagus. By the time he went into emergency surgery, he suffered from sepsis. Despite a successful surgery to correct abdominal compartment syndrome, in which high pressure disrupts proper blood flow to the intestines, he died in the intensive care unit the same day.
Bonetti’s children, Gregory and Brigitte, sued in 2017 in St. Charles County Circuit Court. Bonetti also leaves a wife, Corinne, 69.
Bonetti was a well-known chef throughout the country. Early in his career, he ran the kitchens for several Playboy Clubs. He also cooked for Kevin Costner, Tom Jones and former President Jimmy Carter.
This story reproduced from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. By: Lawrence Davidson
Parties: Mary Hunt, as Next Friend for Warren Hunt v. Freeman Health Systems and Larry Clark
Facts/Claims: A jury delivered a medical malpractice verdict of more than $7.68 million to a mother and her son whose brain was damaged by forceps during his August 2016 birth. The Jasper County jury decision found Dr.
Larry Clark and Freeman Health Systems liable for negligence in the case brought by Mary
Hunt, 28, and on behalf of her son Warren, 3. The jury deliberated five hours before reaching its decision after an eight-day trial in Joplin.
“It’s a reflection of our system of justice working,’’ said Hunt’s attorney Roger Johnson of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci in Joplin. The money is “allowing a terrific mother and her child a quality future instead of a future of being left behind.”
The money will be used for Warren’s lifelong physical and occupational therapies and other medical care. The jury awarded the exact amount suggested for his life care plan, $4.7 million. The other nearly $3 million of the verdict was for past economic and medical damages, and future economic damages.
The exact amount Hunt and her little boy are receiving is confidential. After refusing a $5 million demand to avoid trial, the defense team changed course.
Both sides agreed to a settlement range based on whatever amount the jury decided, Johnson and defense lead attorney David Overby said. The decision to settle the case in an amount based on what the jury decided is common, said Overby of Hyde, Love & Overby in Springfield.
“The truth to the matter is both sides are putting the case in the hands of 12 people you haven’t met,” he said. The agreement to settle “can take away the extremes on both sides.”
Hunt claimed at trial Clark did not say he was using forceps, that using forceps was not medically necessary, he put the forceps on the wrong
places on Warren’s head and that he twisted and pulled his head hard enough that it caused bleeding deep in the brain. The bleeding caused a stroke and “wiped out the left hemisphere of his brain,” Johnson said.
Hunt was admitted to the hospital on July 31, 2016. She had a perforated eardrum at the time, a fact that would later come into play on the defense’s reasoning for using forceps during delivery.
On Aug. 1, after an hour and a half of pushing, Warren was close to entering the birth canal. Dr. Clark, who was at the end of a 16-hour on-call shift, waited a few minutes and said, “I’m going to help you,” according to the recollections of Hunt, the father and the friend, Johnson said.
Then, Clark grasped the baby’s head with the forceps incorrectly and twisted and pulled with enough force to cause bleeding in the deep part of the head, Johnson said. Aside from abrasions from the forceps, no damage was detected. The defense said Clark used the forceps to avoid Hunt suffering more ear pain that worsened every time she pushed to get the baby out.
Other than abrasions, there were no obvious signs of brain damage. However, at 11 months old, it was obvious that Warren was not developing normally. An MRI confirmed the brain damage.
At trial, the defense expert medical witnesses offered differing explanations for the brain damage, including that Warren had a stroke before he was born.
“A lot of the focus was on causation,” Overby said. No one disputed the child had brain damage but a diagnosis 11 months after birth left an open question as to when the bleeding happened and thus, what caused it, he said.
As for Warren, he was not expected to walk but is using a walker and drags his right foot, Johnson said. He will always speak with a slur and will not form sentences and use words so he can express himself effectively, Johnson said.
This story was published in Missouri Lawyers Weekly by Lawrence Davidson.
Parties: Kara Hansen v. Corbin Hamilton
Facts/Claims: After a five-day jury trial, a Cherokee County, Kansas jury returned a jury verdict for Kara Hansen on February 2, 2018, for $38,500,000.00. Roger Johnson and Anna Sanderson of the law firm Johnson, Vorhees and Martucci represented Ms. Hansen, a 20-year-old resident from Riverton, Kansas.
Ms. Hansen was catastrophically injured on April 9, 2014, when her custom 1966 Ford Mustang was struck in the rear by Corbin Hamilton, formerly from Pittsburg, Kansas. Ms. Hansen had been stopped in the northbound lane of Alt 69, waiting for a southbound vehicle to pass by so that she could turn into her own driveway. The impact to her rear propelled her into the approaching southbound vehicle, driven by Marty Atnip. Struck at highway speeds, she suffered burst fractures in her neck and injuries to her spinal cord, ultimately resulting in tetraplegia.
Mr. Hamilton denied fault, blaming Ms. Hansen, Mr. Atnip and a used car dealership from which he had just purchased his vehicle. The jury found him 100% at fault.
Jurors afterward, in speaking with the attorneys, voiced their hope that the verdict would help secure funds needed by Ms. Hansen to best give her a chance at a meaningful life. They also emphasized the need for Mr. Hamilton to be held accountable, particularly given his unwillingness to accept that his inattention while driving had led to this tragic accident.
Ms. Hansen’s attorney, Roger Johnson, credited Ms. Hansen’s tremendous daily courage and positive spirit, which had become clear to the jury both through her testimony and that of her friends and caregivers, for the jury’s decision to give this verdict.
Child Obtains $10,000,000 Judgment for Sexual Molestation
Parties: C.B. (a minor child) v. Huling and United Pentecostal Church
Facts/Claims: Roy Huling, the pastor of the Webb City United Pentecostal Church sexually assaulted one of the children of his parish repeatedly over the course of 3 years from the time the child was 9 years old, while the child was being cared for by he and his wife in their home after school. When the child was 13, she told her mother of the assaults, and Huling ultimately confessed to having sexually molested the child. Claims of negligence were brought against Huling’s wife and church. The homeowner’s policy paid the policy limits of $300,000 and the Church paid its policy limits of $50,000 under a sexual acts provision in the policy. A Judgment was rendered against Huling individually for his intentional actions. He remains in prison.
Children obtain Judgment against murderers of their father
Parties: Richardson v. Becker, Graham & Gordon
Facts/Claims: Jamey Richardson was shot and killed while trying to escape from the home of defendant Gordon, who had asked Richardson to come to his home with the pretense of having a problem. Instead, Gordon, Becker and Graham had conspired to induce Richardson to the home because other victims they had tortured had given them his name as possibly knowing where the trio’s drug cache had been taken. All three are in prison. Becker, the shooter, was convicted of multiple felonies. Gordon’s homeowner’s policy has paid its $100,000 policy limits when JVM made negligence claims against him. Judgment for $10,000,000 was entered against Becker and Graham.
$7.68 Million Verdict for Birth Injury Client
Facts/Claims: Attorney Scott Vorhees and Attorney Tati Scholfield-Johnson of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci have recently tried and concluded a birth injury-medical malpractice case on behalf of a client. After several days of trial – from September 3rd, 2019 to September 17th, 2019 – a jury verdict of $7,688,861.10 was reached. This is believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict in Jasper County on record.
Defendant Larry Clark, M.D., who was employed by Freeman Health Systems, was determined to be medically negligent by the jury in his misuse of forceps during the birth of Warren Hunt. Due to his misuse of the forceps, he caused a severe brain injury to the infant, triggering a stroke that permanently damaged half of Warren’s brain.
Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Center et al
Facts/Claims: Jury awards nearly $5 million in birth injury trial. The mother claimed a delayed delivery damaged baby’s brain.
Parties: Plaintiff Robert Grundy v Defendant Gary Stone
Facts/Claims: The plaintiff, Robert L. Grundy, lost a leg in a forklift accident. Grundy, of Carthage, was a 30-year employee of Schreiber Foods Inc. when, the lawsuit alleged, a co-worker backed a forklift into and then over Grundy on March 12, 2009, at its Jasper County manufacturing warehouse.
Eight days after the accident, Grundy had an above-the-knee amputation of his left leg.
In 2010, Grundy sued forklift driver Gary Stone of Carterville; a second co-worker he also believed to be at fault; and Schreiber Foods, of Green Bay, Wis., one of the nation’s largest makers of cheese and yogurt. The plaintiff dismissed the company and one co-worker from the suit Aug. 30, leaving Stone as the sole remaining defendant.
Plaintiff’s attorney Scott Vorhees, of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci in Joplin, said the suit withstood a defense challenge that co-workers couldn’t be sued under state law for negligent conduct.
(A 2010 state appellate decision, Robinson v. Hooker, held that one employee could sue another in civil court rather than pursue relief solely through the workers’ compensation system.)
Lead defense attorney Lawrence Grebel didn’t respond to an interview request by deadline, and local counsel Karl Blanchard Jr., of Joplin, declined to comment.
“They claimed that Grundy essentially walked into the path of the forklift and wasn’t paying attention,” Vorhees said.
Grundy, a warehouse manager, spent most of his time in an office but also had to walk the factory floor, the lawyer said.
In its answer filed with the court, the defense generally denied the plaintiff’s allegations and argued that Grundy himself, and potentially others not under the defendants’ control, was negligent in the collision, and that he didn’t do enough to protect himself from harm.
The case went to trial on April 2, with a jury hearing four days of testimony. At a preliminary jury instruction conference, lawyers for both sides announced the settlement.
Grundy was to receive a $2,125,000 payment at the time of the settlement and the remaining $700,000, in present-day value, through a monthly payment schedule starting next March, according to a copy of the agreement provided by Vorhees’ firm. The defendant denied liability for the injury.
Grundy, 59, has received the lump-sum payment, Vorhees said.
Facts/Claims: In a recent medical malpractice case involving bowel obstruction, the jury sides with the woman and a large verdict is won on her behalf.
Court: Greene County Circuit Court
Parties: Leatonya King v. Litton and Giddings radiology and others
Facts/Claims: Our client, Leatonya King, was seen by several physicians who followed one radiologist’s interpretation that her issue was a mild and partial bowel obstruction. After suffering substantial pain, a surgeon operated and found an incarcerated, strangulated hernia that was cutting off blood supply to the small bowel, resulting in stomach perforation.
The CT scan was falsely interpreted and should have been read as a complete bowel obstruction. Instead of a rather simple procedure, she had to have 6 surgeries in 22 days. Many other complications have resulted and she may someday have to have a surgery to re-establish a connection from her esophagus to her stomach, which is a procedure that has a high risk of death.
Pathologist Misses Melanoma, Leading to Man’s Death
Facts/Claims: A Springfield pathologist missed the diagnosis of melanoma from a skin biopsy. Four years later, the melanoma had spread throughout the man’s body and when the original biopsy was reviewed by a specialist, it was interpreted correctly as melanoma and the report was revised. It was later discovered that this was the second misdiagnosis where a person ultimately died because of the same pathologist having missed the diagnosis of melanoma. The man died in his 40s, leaving a wife and two young children.
35 Year Old Dies After ER Fails to Diagnose Bleed
Facts/Claims: 35 Year Old Dies After ER Fails to Diagnose Bleed
Facts/Claims: On February 23, 2015, Plaintiff James “Gary” Cooper underwent a laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication by Defendant Dr. Jeffrey Kellar at North Hills Surgery Center. During the surgery, a dilator, called a bougie, is passed into Gary’s esophagus. It is noted by Dr. Kellar that there was difficulty passing the bougie. During the surgery a perforation of Gary’s esophagus occurred and was unrecognized. Dr. Kellar did not perform any intraoperative testing to confirm the integrity of the esophagus. The surgery was completed in 45 minutes from start to finish. Gary was discharged from the outpatient surgery center within 2 hours of the surgery having been completed.
Following the surgery, Gary began having pain in the throat and down to the upper abdomen. He had pain with swallowing water and was unable to even swallow his medications.
On February 24, 2015, Gary and his girlfriend placed 10 calls throughout the day to Dr. Kellar’s office reporting that his pain was greater than expected and he had difficulty swallowing.
Just prior to midnight Gary was taken via helicopter to Washington Regional Medical Center where it was discovered that he had a 2cm linear tear of his posterior esophagus that had been leaking into his chest and abdomen. This resulted in the development of mediastinitis, respiratory failure, pulmonary empyema, an esophageal fistula, bilateral DVT in the arms, sepsis, hematomas and a subsequent incisional hernia.
As a result of the perforation, Gary was hospitalized for a total of 73 days. He underwent a total of 6 surgeries, numerous procedures to place and remove chest tubes and drains, required admission to a long term acute care facility, and home health nursing. It took Gary approximately 18 months to recover from his injuries and be able to become independent in his daily activities.
Plaintiff’s experts testified that the difficulty passing the bougie was a red flag that there may have been injury to the esophagus. They testified that the esophagus was either injured by the bougie or during Dr. Kellar’s dissection. Plaintiff’s experts testified that the standard of care required Dr. Kellar to have performed a thorough inspection of the esophagus for any signs of injury as well as perform intra-operative testing such as an EGD with air insufflation of the esophagus while submerged in saline, a dye test, or an upper GI. Dr. Helling testified that the standard of care required Dr. Kellar to keep Gary admitted to the hospital for observation at least 23 hours after surgery. All three surgeon experts agreed that it is their practice to keep the patient in the hospital overnight for observation.
Defendant’s expert, Dr. DeLoach, argued that the standard of care did not require such intraoperative testing, unless the surgeon had a strong suspicion that injury had occurred. Dr. DeLoach argued that difficulty passing the bougie was common during these procedures. Dr. DeLoach admitted that the standard of care required the surgeon to perform a thorough visual inspection of the esophagus during the surgery. Dr. DeLoach testified that the perforation was a result of Dr. Kellar’s surgery and most likely occurred during the surgery.
All of the experts agreed that the standard of care required that an esophageal perforation be identified and repaired during the surgery if it existed at that time. All of the experts agreed that the subsequent hospitalizations, treatment and medical bills were the result of the delay in diagnosis of the perforation, and most likely would have been avoided had the perforation been repaired during the initial surgery.
During cross-examination- Dr. Kellar admitted that he had not re-inspected the esophagus after the attempt to pass the bougie. Dr. Kellar admitted that he had not taken any specific steps, aside from the prior visual inspection, to rule out injury to the esophagus. Dr. Kellar admitted that he could not rule out that the esophagus had been perforated during his surgery.
The jury deliberated for 9 hours. After 8 hours of deliberation, a settlement demand in the amount of $1,000,000 was conveyed to the defense. That demand was rejected and no offer was made.
The jury voted 9-3 in favor of Plaintiff on the issue of liability and all 12 jurors agreed to the award of damages. The jury awarded $1,712,038.81, the exact amount asked for by Plaintiff’s counsel.
Parties: Plaintiff Rhonda Parrott v Defendant Severs Trucking LLC and Brandon Black
Facts/Claims: The widow of a man who died following surgery weeks after breaking his kneecap in a tractor-trailer collision won $1.6 million from a Newton County jury last month.
The wrongful death lawsuit stemmed from an April 2007 crash in Oklahoma that broke James Parrott’s kneecap. About three weeks later, he died of a heart at-tack after outpatient surgery to repair his knee.
The time between the accident and the death made it tricky to persuade a jury to pay out on a claim against the other driver, said plaintiff’s attorney Roger Johnson.
“We knew that this was a perception issue,” said Johnson, who represented Rhonda Parrott, James Parrott’s wife. “We had to get over a hump with the jury be-cause Parrot didn’t die immediately after the accident but a few weeks later.”
The jury returned a unanimous $1.62 million verdict for Parrott’s family but assigned Parrott 5 percent of the fault, slightly reducing the amount owed.
The accident occurred in Mayes County, Okla. Parrott was driving a tractor-trailer on Highway 69 when he collided with Brandon Black, who was driving a milk tanker truck owned by Severs Trucking, Johnson said.
In Missouri, a wrongdoer is liable for necessary medical treatment that results in complications that cause death, Johnson said.
“[Parrott] was seriously injured at the time with the broken kneecap, but it did not appear life-threatening,” Johnson said. “That’s what made it a little different than the regular trucking accident.
“We had to show but for the collision, he would not have needed surgery, and but for the surgery, he would not have had the complications and died.”
The choice of law also played a role in the trial and verdict, said both Johnson and defense attorney Judy C. Moore, of Flanigan, Lasley & Moore in Carthage.
Both drivers and their companies are from Missouri, but the accident occurred in Oklahoma. Missouri’s standard for negligence in such a case is “the highest degree of care,” while Oklahoma uses the “ordinary care” standard.
The judge decided to apply Missouri law over defense objections.
Johnson said the 49-year-old Parrott was “a veteran of Desert Storm, a tough-as-nails fellow” before the accident.
“He was in good health,” Johnson said. “He hadn’t had to see a doctor other than for [Department of Transportation]-required checkups for his trucking license.
“In this situation, the autopsy wasn’t conclusive,” Johnson said. “It was really a matter of showing he was likely having chest pains, and the anesthesia and pain medication masked those chest pains.”
The Parrott suit contended that Black was negligent by failing to properly look out for traffic; failing to yield the right-of-way when he pulled out from a stop sign; and driving on the shoulder for about 200 feet before entering the highway.
Black was only driving 25-30 mph when he entered the roadway in front of the Parrott vehicle, which was operating at highway speeds of 65 mph, Johnson said.
Severs Trucking and Black presented accident reconstruction expert Jay Pfeiffer, who argued Parrott should have been able to see the defendant in time to avoid the collision. The expert also disputed that the defendant was driving on the shoulder before the collision.
Johnson countered with an eyewitness who said the defendant was on the shoulder and that there wasn’t enough time for Parrott to have reacted to avoid the accident.
“We chose to keep it simple and basic,” Johnson said. “We didn’t use an [accident reconstruction] expert. We relied on the eyewitness, and I guess that was the part we were sweating over a little.
“Given the unanimous verdict,” Johnson said, “I think it’s pretty clear that the jury gave the most weight to the eyewitness and not their [reconstruction] expert.”
Moore said the defense is considering an appeal.
“We believe there are good grounds for an appeal, and our clients are considering their options,” Moore said. “There are numerous points of evidentiary and instructional error.”
Trucker Suffers Brain Injuries
Facts/Claims: Trucker Suffers Brain Injuries
Woman in 30’s Suffers Catastrophic Stroke When Warning TIAs Not Followed up on by Doctors
Facts/Claims: A Joplin woman was sent for an MRI of the brain/orbit area by her ophthalmologist when he detected that she was not able to see entirely from her peripheral vision. The MRI report revealed mini-strokes had occurred, which is a warning sign of a potential major stroke. The radiologist faxed the report to the eye doctor several days later, but the findings were not reported to the patient, nor was she set up to see a neurologist. Three weeks after the MRI report, she suffered a catastrophic stroke.
Jury favors plaintiffs in stillborn baby suit
Parties: Plaintiff Delfina Sosa and Cody Masteller v Defendant Julia Chowdhury, M.D.
Facts/Claims: Jasper County jury decided in favor of the parents of an unborn child who died before an emergency procedure was performed to try to save the baby’s life.
Plaintiffs Delfina Sosa and Cody Masteller accused Dr. Julia Chowdhury of negligence. They presented evidence for pecuniary losses based on the wrongful death statute R.S. Mo. 537.090, which calculates damages based on the average annual income of parents in cases involving children.
That provision passed as part of the 2005 overhaul of state tort laws. Plaintiffs’ attorney Roger Johnson, of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci, said the parties de-bated that statute during trial. Appellate courts haven’t ruled on it yet, he said, so trial courts are interpreting the language themselves and deciding how to treat these cases and instruct juries.
Jayson Ford, of Shaffer, Lombardo & Shurin, represented the defendant doctor. He likens the 537.090 statute to a fine. Damages are supposed to be compensatory, he said, but argued with this statute the amount awarded is in no way connected to actual damages or injuries suffered. He said Judge Gayle Crane followed the law’s plain language, but he doesn’t agree with it.
Under this statute, Ford said, it’s possible for a stillborn baby to be valued higher than a death of the primary household earner, whose lost income would be a much larger fiscal hit to a family than a baby, who doesn’t work.
Ford said the jury asked the court if it had to award the full amount of pecuniary damages. The judge told jurors to follow their given instructions.
Johnson, the couple’s attorney, offered this explanation of the situation: Sosa arrived at St. John’s Hospital in Joplin at 1 a.m. on March 2, 2010, with labor contractions. It was her third visit to the hospital in 24 hours. A nurse placed Sosa on a fetal heart rate monitor and noticed the baby’s heart rate had decreased from 145 beats per minute six hours earlier to 110 beats. A normal baseline heart rate for an unborn baby is 110-160 beats per minute.
The nurse called Chowdhury, the on-call doctor, at 2:17 a.m. to report the changes, Johnson said. Chowdhury ordered Sosa admitted to the hospital and re-turned to sleep, Johnson said. At 3:17 a.m., the nurse called the doctor again because medical staff couldn’t tell if they were detecting the fetal or the maternal heart rate, the lawyer said. Both heart rates were in the 80s.
The doctor then left for the hospital. While she was en route, a charge nurse ordered an emergency cesarean section. The baby was delivered stillborn at 3:59 a.m. Monitors had not detected a heart rate since 3:35 a.m., Johnson said.
The plaintiffs claimed Chowdhury was negligent for not coming to the hospital after the 2:17 a.m. call or reviewing the heart rate monitoring strips from her home computer. The plaintiffs claimed that if she had checked the strips at home, she would have seen what a nurse did not pick up on: several fetal heart rate decelerations, including one for three to four minutes at 2 a.m.
Plaintiffs’ expert Dr. Charles Stoopack, of San Diego, testified that based on the information Chowdhury received at 2:17 a.m., she should have at a minimum turned on her home computer to track the fetal heart rate monitoring.
Had she done this, he said, she would have seen early stages of hypoxia, or oxygen loss. Then, he argued, she could have gone to the hospital and performed an emergency C-section 30-60 minutes earlier, and the baby could have been born healthy.
Stoopack explained that early signs of hypoxia were present when Sosa arrived at the hospital at 1 a.m. At that time Sosa was experiencing a partial placental abruption, he said, when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery. When this happens, the fetus is cut off from the oxygen supply. Signs of placental abruption include abnormal bleeding, severe abdominal pain between contractions and fetal heart rate changes, either decreasing or accelerating.
Both Stoopack and defense expert Dr. Bruce Bryan, an OB-GYN in St. Louis, agreed the abruption occurred rapidly. Bryan said in retrospect it is easy to see what happened, but that at the time of the incident it would have been impossible to predict.
At trial, plaintiffs’ expert John Ward, an economist, used the statute change in 537.090 to compute pecuniary losses of $1,012,541.
Ford, the defense lawyer, said the plaintiffs also sought about $1 million in noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. The jury returned a verdict for the full amount of pecuniary damages but awarded nothing for pain and suffering.
“I am pleased with the jury’s results because I think it reflects the need for good, safe medical practices,” Johnson said. “When a doctor chooses not to respond to warning signs and not to come in as required to take care of a patient, it is important for the community to say, ‘This is not acceptable care.’”
Johnson said Jasper County is a conservative venue where jurors expect you to prove your case and doctors often get the benefit of the doubt. He said it’s important with such cases to put on compelling evidence, not just prove that more likely than not your case is solid.
“Whether you win or lose, anytime you’re dealing with either a brain-damaged or dead child, you have a difficult path ahead of you,” Ford said. “It’s a challenge for the jurors to not be swayed by emotion. We’re all human beings, and extremely sad stories such as this really make us feel it in the heart and gut.”
$1M Verdict in Bonetti Wrongful Death Case
Facts/Claims: Marcel Bonetti, a renowned Springfield chef, died five days after undergoing a straightforward umbilical hernia repair. He returned to the hospital two days after the surgery, complaining of constipation pains and abdominal distention. Dr. McCarthy diagnosed Bonetti with a post-operative ileus before sending him home. The patient went back to the hospital two days later, and doctors finally diagnosed him with bowel ischemia. However, Bonetti was already septic by the time he was taken to the operating room. He died several hours after the surgery.
No offers were made by Dr. McCarthy or the company that contracted with him: Southeastern Emergency Physicians of Memphis (SEPM). The St. Charles jury returned a verdict for one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) against Dr. McCarthy and found that he was the agent of SEPM.
Amputation of Leg Following Surgical Error
Facts/Claims: Amputation of Leg Following Surgical Error
Woman Dies of Breast Cancer Following Failure By PCP to Order Tests
Facts/Claims: A family doctor did not order BRAC genetic testing on a woman whose mother had died of breast cancer in her 30s. He also did not encourage mammograms for his patient, despite early awareness reports from the American Cancer Society that encourages this testing. The woman developed breast cancer, which had metastasized by the time she was diagnosed. Later BRAC testing of the woman confirmed that she had the gene for breast cancer.
Man Suffers Stroke After Neck Surgery
Facts/Claims: Man Suffers Stroke After Neck Surgery
Race Car Driver Burned When Car Crashes
Facts/Claims: Race Car Driver Burned When Car Crashes
Herniated Disc in Low Back Following Car Wreck
Facts/Claims: Herniated Disc in Low Back Following Car Wreck
Neck Injuries After Fall at Red Lobster
Facts/Claims: Neck Injuries After Fall at Red Lobster
Woman Survives Tornado, but Dies When Doctors Fail to Diagnose Internal Bleed
Facts/Claims: A Neosho area woman was caught with her husband and daughter in a tornado and flung airborne, suffering a mild head injury and a serious leg fracture. She went to one hospital by ambulance, while her husband and daughter went to another. She was not given a CT of her abdomen and pelvis and a bleed was undetected. She began having alarming symptoms the next day, but the nurse did not timely notify the doctor. She ultimately bled to death internally from the undiagnosed bleed.
Collision With Train. Client Sustained Head & Neck Injuries.
Facts/Claims: Collision With Train. Client Sustained Head & Neck Injuries.
Injured Worker Made Worse By Occumed Doctors
Facts/Claims: Injured Worker Made Worse By Occumed Doctors
Emergency Room Physician Fails To Treat Heart Patient, Who Dies After Discharge
Facts/Claims: A Joplin emergency room doctor sent a patient home who had been recently discharged from the hospital after having open heart surgery and had returned to the hospital with acute abdominal pain. The doctor did not consult with the surgeon, nor did he have any imaging studies or blood work to assess whether it was safe to send the patient home. The man died within 24 hours of being discharged when peritonitis caused stress on his heart, which resulted in a heart attack.
Multiple Fractures in Cycle/Car Crash (OK)
Facts/Claims: Multiple Fractures in Cycle/Car Crash (OK)
Catastrophic Stroke Missed In ER by Doctor Who Brings Down Blood Pressure Too Far Too Fast
Facts/Claims: A Carthage woman presented to an emergency room with extraordinarily high blood pressure and a bad headache. The ER doctor had possible stroke on his differential diagnosis, but he did not rule it out with a CT scan. Instead, he lowered her blood pressure too far, too fast, thereby disabling the body’s natural responses to fighting off the undiagnosed stroke, and then he sent her home, where she had the completion of a disabling stroke over the next 24 hours.
Woman Obtains Jury Verdict Victory for Missing IUD/Medical Malpractice Case
Facts/Claims: Woman Obtains Jury Verdict Victory for Missing IUD/Medical Malpractice Case
Stephanie Carr of Green County had a birth control intrauterine device (IUD) implanted into her body in early 2005. Only a month later, a pelvic ultrasound was unable to locate the IUD and her doctors stated that it had been expelled from her body; this was contradictory to her own statements. Despite the missing IUD, no abdominal ultrasound or additional testing was used.
In both 2009 and 2011, Carr suffered miscarriages. Before 2005, she had successfully carried two children to term. In 2013, she switched to another medical provider, who decided to conduct an abdominal ultrasound. This ultrasound, some eight years later, located the IUD within her abdomen, far away from where it had been implanted. It is worth noting that after the IUD’s removal, she was able to have another healthy pregnancy that was carried to term.
She brought a lawsuit against Ferrell-Duncan OBGYN Clinic for personal injury and wrongful death of her unborn fetuses caused by their decision to not perform any additional testing or ultrasounds over the course of several years, despite her open concerns about the missing IUD. The defense counsel contested Carr, expert witnesses, and Attorneys Johnson, Vorhees, and Scholfield-Johnson of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci at every step. It was able to challenge the wrongful death claims by citing its own expert testimonies that believed there was no link between the missing IUD and the miscarriages. Attorney Johnson has already begun plans to appeal that portion of the decision.
The case was able to close with a jury award of $488,157 given to Carr for noneconomic damages.
Parties: Linda Moody, Robert Moody v. Cox-Monett Hospital Inc., Scott Freeland, M.D., St. John’s Clinic in Monett, Anjum Qureshi, M.D.
Facts/Claims: Rural jury awards med-mal plaintiff
Woman argued early warning signs missed
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 have changed.
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 care doctor.
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 was unwilling.
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.
Surgeon Operates and Fuses the Wrong Foot
Facts/Claims: Surgeon Operates and Fuses the Wrong Foot
ATV Rider Gary Bogle
Facts/Claims: ATV Rider Gary Bogle will be awarded upwards of $383,000 after being struck by a car and suffering serious injuries. While conducting a controlled burn with his father on their 20-acre property in Kansas, Gary was hit head-on by Patrick Coman. The accident occurred on a country road neay the fire, and had a ripple effect: After hitting Bogle, Coman was then struck from behind by his friend following in the vehicle behind him.
Coman and his friend both blamed overwhelming smoke from the fire as the ultimate cause of the collisions that ensued; claiming their vision was impaired by a fire that had surpassed the tree line and come into the ditch area where they were riding. Attorney Roger Johnson argued this, pointing out the inconsistencies in how far the defendant and his friend each said they traveled in the smoke. When compared to the police report and official statements from the day of the fire, inconsistencies were also found in the degree of visual impairment expressed by the defendant and his friend.
Ultimately, the jury found Conman 100% at fault for the accident. He has been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bogle, who continues to suffer from head trauma, torn ligaments, and fractures as a result of the accident.
Man With Healthy Kidney – Misdiagnosed
Facts/Claims: Man With Healthy Kidney – Misdiagnosed
Baby Dies After Prenatal Problem Undiagnosed
Facts/Claims: Baby Dies After Prenatal Problem Undiagnosed
An ER Doctor Misses Diagnosis Of A Heart Problem, Leading To Man’s Death
Facts/Claims: A middle-aged man went to the emergency room with acute chest pain and trouble breathing. The doctor diagnosed him with sleep apnea without ordering necessary tests. The doctor sent him home despite O2 saturations being dangerously low. Within twelve hours, the man died while resting in bed. The autopsy revealed an undiagnosed coronary artery blockage.
Birth Injury Leads To Acute Bleeding When Young Doctor Hits Artery While Rupturing Membranes
Facts/Claims: A family doctor resident who was in training for OB attempted to rupture the membranes of a young mother who was in labor. He inadvertently caused an acute bleed on the baby. When he and his supervising doctor tried to get the attending OB physician to come to the hospital in the middle of the night, they could not get him to come in even with repeated calls as the baby’s fetal heart monitor show signs that the baby was in trouble. When the OB finally arrived, an emergency c-section was performed. Fortunately, the baby did not suffer catastrophic injuries, though he had to be in the NICU for several about two weeks.
Low Back Fusion After Trucking Collision
Facts/Claims: Low Back Fusion After Trucking Collision
Parties: Allen v. Kusnerick, American Family, et al.
Facts/Claims: A Joplin area man was killed when Mr. Kusnerick pulled directly into his path from an intersection controlled by a stop sign. Kusnerick’s view to the left was impeded by an overgrowth of foliage and brush. Mr. Allen was on a motorcycle and was being followed in a car by family members, including his young children. Kusnerick’s insurance company paid its policy limits; American Family paid its UIM limits. A further payment was made by the property owner’s insurance, and the County, despite disputing fault.
Medical Bed Left Unlocked Causes Fall and Fractured Back
Facts/Claims: Medical Bed Left Unlocked Causes Fall and Fractured Back
Woman Struck While On Way To Car Outside Grocery Store
Parties: Teegardin v. Smith, Hartford, et al.
Facts/Claims: A woman was walking from the grocery store to her car when a woman struck her in the crossing area. The woman was turned around yelling at her child and had not been watching where she was driving. Mrs. Teegardin had a serious laceration to her head and orthopedic injuries. The woman’s insurer paid its policy limits of $25,000. The Hartford paid UIM coverages of $100,000 and then stacked the policy with another $75,000, after losing on summary judgment on the issues of whether it had a stackable policy. The supermarket paid $20,000 on claims that it was negligent for not having warning stripes in its crosswalk. The Hartford paid another $25,000 under its med-pay provision.
Settlement with liability carrier: $50,000
Parties: Pawlak v. American Family
Facts/Claims: A landscaper suffered back injuries when his vehicle was run off the road by a vehicle that crossed the center line. Mr. Pawlak tried to recover on his own, but ultimately the back pain became worse, he was worked up by a surgeon and had a fusion in his lower back. He was not able to continue his job as a landscaper. The underinsured driver settled for $50,000. A jury trial in Federal Court resulted in a jury verdict for Mr. Pawlak for $213,000.
Golden City Woman Slipped
Facts/Claims: A Golden City woman slipped on gravel and fell in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. The decorative gravel had been allowed to gather and remain on the parking lot from a nearby planter. She suffered a torn fractured left humerus and torn rotator cuff that required three surgeries. The manager of the fast food restaurant testified that he had known for fifteen years about the gravel falling out, that it created a risk of falls and nothing had been done to alleviate the dangerous condition.
Joplin Man’s Foot
Facts/Claims: A Joplin man’s foot fell through the deteriorated wooden porch of his rental home and he suffered a spiral fracture in his left ankle which required surgery. He had a prolonged recovery involving two separate hospitalizations and post-operative infection. The owner of the rental home was aware of the rotten planks on the porch and his own insurance carrier had sent him a letter stating the front porch had weak boards and needed to be repaired. The owner chose to only replace a few boards rather than all the rotten boards.
Woman With Breast Lump Misdiagnosed
Parties: Mounts v. Freeman and Southwest Radiology
Facts/Claims: Plaintiff felt a small lump in her breast but when she went in for a mammogram she was told it was only cystic tissue. A year later she realized the lump was larger. She went to a different doctor and was diagnosed with Stage 3A breast cancer. After undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, she went into complete remission. A jury awarded a verdict of 99% fault against the Freeman surgeon who misdiagnosed Mrs. Mounts and 1% fault against the radiologist. Freeman settled before trial for $50,000.