An Illinois man´s compensation claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat has been resolved with a negotiated settlement of $675,000.
On October 1, 2014, Janusz Pawlowicz (64) from Des Plains in Cook County, Illinois, attended Gentle Dental Services Ltd. where he was due to undergo the first of a two-part root canal procedure performed by Beata Kozar-Warchalowska.
Janusz´s treatment required the use of local anesthesia and multiple dental tools, including a barbed broach – which, during the procedure, Kozar-Warchalowska dropped. Believing the surgical instrument had fallen onto the floor, the dentist continued with the treatment.
However, when Janusz returned for the second part of his treatment on October 10, he complained to Kozar-Warchalowska of nausea and abdominal pain. He subsequently attended the Resurrection Medical Center, where a stomach x-ray revealed the presence of the missing broach.
Janusz underwent an endoscopy and a laparoscopy before the surgical instrument was eventually removed via a resection of his small bowel. He was transferred to Loyola Medical Center to recover for three weeks, but subsequently developed an ileus and was placed on a liquid diet for the next two months.
After seeking legal advice, Janusz made a claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat, alleging that Kozar-Warchalowska had departed from the expected standard of care while performing a root canal treatment. He also sued Gentle Dental Services, Ltd. for being vicariously liable for the dentist´s actions.
Both Kozar-Warchalowska and Gentle Dental Services Ltd contested the claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat, arguing that there had been no deviation from the expected standard of care. However, an offer of settlement was forthcoming, amounting to $250,000.
Janusz´s lawyers considered that the injuries he had suffered should be valued at $1 million, and a hearing for the assessment of damages was scheduled for the Cook County District Court before Judge John P. Callahan Jr. However, before the hearing began, a settlement of the claim was negotiated amounting to $650,000 to account for Janusz´s past and future loss of normal life, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, as well as damages for permanent disfigurement for an abdominal surgery scar.
Connecticut´s Supreme Court has ruled that a compensation claim for a HIPAA privacy breach can go ahead after it was tossed by the state´s Appellate Court.
Following a brief relationship in 2004, Emily Byrne discovered she was pregnant. As the relationship had ended, Emily instructed the Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Westport not to reveal her protected health information (PHI) to her former partner – Andro Mendoza.
Mendoza then used Emily´s medical records to start “a campaign of harm, ridicule, embarrassment and extortion” against Emily and her family. Emily obtained a court order to seal her medical records, and made a compensation claim for a HIPAA privacy breach against the Avery Center.
The Avery Center denied that it had been negligent in releasing Emily´s PHI and argued that State law took precedence over Federal law in this instance. When the claim went to the Appellate Court, the court ruled that the health center was indeed in breach of HIPAA privacy legislation, but would be charged a lesser civil penalty – rather than a negligence claim – which would result in a significantly reduced fine and no compensation for Emily.
Emily appealed the Appellate Court´s ruling to the Connecticut Supreme Court and, after a hearing last July, the Supreme Court gave the verdict that Emily did have a claim for a privacy breach against the health center based on Connecticut´s Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) that overruled HIPAA legislation. Emily´s claim has now been returned to the Appellate Court for a hearing later this year.
This is the first time that the Connecticut Supreme Court has been asked to consider the unauthorized release of PHI by a HIPAA-covered entity. The state now joins North Carolina, Missouri, and West Virginia as ruling in favor of a plaintiff whose privacy has been breached. The Department of Health and Human Services – the body responsible for issuing fines for a HIPAA privacy breach commented “the fact that a state law allows an individual to file [a civil action] to protect privacy does not conflict with the HIPAA penalty provisions.”
Californians go to the polls next week with an opportunity to resolve a 39-year old issue over medical negligence payments.
Currently in California, when a medical professional is found to have been negligent and caused a patient an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition, a limit of $250,000 is imposed on the “non-economic” medical negligence payments that the patient can receive for their pain and suffering.
The limit was originally imposed in the 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act after medical professionals complained of a “ruinous escalation of malpractice insurance premiums”, and an option to include an “insurance escalator” was declined at the time by the California Trial Lawyers Association because they believed that without accounting for inflation the Act would be easier to oppose.
Had this “insurance escalator” been included in the original Act, the current limit on medical negligence payments in California would be $1.1 million. Voters are being asked whether to introduce the new limit and adjust it each year in line with inflation in order to allow more victims of medical negligence to recover compensation for the injuries they sustain.
Supporters of Proposition 46 say that many hundreds of people have been denied access to justice over the past thirty-nine years because of the limit on medical negligence payments. Bringing a medical negligence case is particularly expensive, and supporters of the Proposition claim that the current compensation limit results in patients being awarded an inadequate settlement of compensation for their pain and suffering and often barely enough to cover their legal costs.
Consequently many victims of medical negligence – who have suffered an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to a lack of care by a medical professional – decline to make medical negligence compensation claims. This situation particularly affects injuries to children, non-working spouses and the elderly, who have a relatively small amount of economic damages to claim for loss of income.
Opponents of the Proposition claim that an increase in medical negligence payments will result in health insurance premiums rising by 50% to 100%. They allege that this will cause some medical centers to refrain from providing riskier healthcare – such as maternity care – or reduce costs by treating fewer patients without insurance.
Proposition 46 also includes plans to safeguard patients from medical professionals who are substance abusers, and to put a stop to the over-prescribing of opoids and other dangerous medications, by developing a database of prescriptions that have been filled before drugs which could lead to abuse are dispensed to a patient for the first time.
A Pennsylvania judge has upheld the $19.5 million settlement of a surgical complications compensation claim made by the widower of a woman who underwent polyp removal surgery and later died from complications.
Mariann Pomroy (57) from Langhorne in Pennsylvania attended the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on 22 October 2008 to have a polyp removed from her colon. At the time of her surgery, Mariann had a number of health problems including renal disease, and had a previous medical history of multiple abdominal surgeries.
After the operation, Mariann´s surgeon – Dr Ernest Rosato – noted that the surgery had been more complicated than had been anticipated due to extensive adhesions from previous procedures, but gave no indication that the operation had not been successful.
However, while she was recovery from the surgical procedure, Mariann started to experience abdominal pain, had elevated blood potassium and decreased urine output. Her medical records showed that, as her health deteriorated, Mariann was transferred to intensive care and – on 2 November 2008 – underwent emergency surgery for intra-abdominal sepsis and gastrointestinal bleeding.
The second operation revealed an area of separation between Mariann´s right colon and terminal ileum which exposed some of her bowel. Because the bowel had swollen through the edema, Mariann´s abdominal cavity could not be closed until a third operation on 8 December 2008 – after which she remained hospitalized until March 2009, when she was considered sufficiently stable to be transferred to a long-term care facility.
While she was at the long-term care facility, Mariann had to undergo several surgical revisions for the treatment she had received at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She suffered a stroke, developed acute renal failure and ventilation dependent respiratory failure – all of which caused her severe and permanent disabilities. Mariann passed away on 12 August 2010.
After seeking legal advice, Mariann´s widower – George Pomroy – made a surgical complications compensation claim against Dr Rosato and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, claiming that Mariann´s death had been caused by medical malpractice and that the defendants had failed to conduct appropriate consultations prior to surgery, failed to properly close the anastomosis and failed to recognized the breach in the bowel which resulted in the second and subsequent surgeries.
The hospital and the executors for Dr Rosato – who had died since performing the procedure – denied the surgical complications compensation claim and the case was heard at the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in February 2013. After a week-long trial, the jury delivered a verdict in favour of George Pomroy, and awarded him $19.5 million in compensation for the wrongful death of his wife due to surgical complications.
The defendants appealed the verdict, but earlier this week Judge Mary Collins upheld the jury´s decision to award George Pomroy $19.5 million in settlement of his surgical complications compensation claim – stating that Dr Rosato (by way of his executors) had breached his duty of care to Mariann by performing colon surgery instead of a less-risky endoscopic procedure, which would have been more appropriate considering Mariann´s previous medical history.
A woman, who suffered severe brain damage after neither a surgeon nor an anaesthetist were present to perform a C-Section procedure, has been awarded a settlement package of compensation for injury due to a delayed Caesarean operation amounting to 4.2 million pounds.
Susanne Turner (45) from Wittersham, Kent, was born on April 28th 1967 at the Buchanan Street Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea following the untimely delay which resulted in her being deprived of oxygen in the womb and unable to breathe independently when she was eventually delivered. The lack of oxygen resulted in Susanne sustaining brain damage at birth and she has had suffered from learning difficulties throughout her life.
Without knowing that they were eligible for compensation or support, Susanne´s parents – Christopher and Sandra – raised the little girl without assistance, until Susanne´s father read a magazine article which suggested that he might be able to claim compensation for an injury due to a delayed Caesarean operation on his daughter´s behalf. After seeking legal advice, which confirmed that a claim for compensation was still possible due to Susanne´s lack of mental capacity, Susanne´s parents sued South East Coast Strategic Health Authority – the NHS Trust responsible for the now-closed Buchanan Street Hospital.
The South East Coast Strategic Health Authority admitted liability for Susanne´s injury and, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, issued an apology to Susanne and her parents for the negligence which had occurred 45 years previously. Judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies heard that a settlement of compensation for injury due to a delayed Caesarean had been agreed between the two parties which consisted of a lump sum and annual payments and, paying tribute to Christopher and Sandra´s “love and devotion” for their daughter, approved the settlement estimated to be worth 4.2 million pounds.
The family of a woman who died from a heart attack after she was wrongfully discharged from hospital has won their compensation court case for death in a hospital caused by negligence claim and are to receive £278,000 Euros in compensation.
The judge in court heard how Mrs Teresa O’Brien had been admitted to hospital in September 2004 with a heart complaint.
The consultant at the hospital had ordered that an angiogram be carried out and Mrs O’Brien kept in hospital. A senior house officer also performed stress tests and sent the results to a doctor. It was alleged that neither the senior house officer nor the doctor linked results of the stress test with the direction given by the consultant that Mrs O’Brien should not be discharged from hospital until she had been x-rayed. As a result, Mrs O’Brien was sent home and tragically died four days later. Her post-mortem showed evidence of cardiovascular irregularity and it was also discovered later that the results of the stress test had been misread.
The health service conceded liability after Mrs O’Brien’s widower – Paul – sought damages for medical negligence and breach of duty. The judge approved a compensation settlement of £106,000 for Paul O’Brien, with further amounts of £77,000 for her son Daniel and £85,000 Euros for her step-son Daryl. Other Smaller sums are also to be awarded to Mrs O’Brien’s two brothers and sister.
An elderly pensioner, who was the victim of poor workmanship when renovations were made to her home, has been awarded 3,500 Euros in emotional injury compensation by a judge in Dublin.
Mr Justice Matthew Deery at the Circuit Civil Court heard how pensioner Kathleen O’Leary (84) had contracted the services of Cranlowe Ltd – a father and son building company situated in Terenure, Dublin – to renovate a 1.82m2 (6 feet) utility room in her home in Walkinstown, Dublin.
Soon after the workmen had finished – and Kathleen had paid them 23,000 for the work they had done – faults began to appear. First the utility room flooded due to faulty pipework. This caused the electricity to short-circuit as the power supply had not been earthed and, on closer inspection by a quantity surveyor, a further eighteen faults were discovered.
The judge heard that Kathleen had approached the senior partner of the building company – Patrick Cowzer – to demand an explanation and arrange for remedial work to be done, but he had become aggressive and abusive towards her.
After seeking professional legal advice, Kathleen made an injury compensation claim for professional negligence against the father and son and, in November 2011, had a judgement made in her favour after the defendants failed to contest the claim.
Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard that the case was before him for the assessment of damages only and, after hearing that it would cost 14,192 Euros to put right the errors made by Cranlowe Ltd, he awarded Kathleen 17,692 Euros to account for the repairs to her home and to provide emotional injury compensation for the stress she had experienced throughout the affair.
The parents of a woman who died after her doctor failed to recognise the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis have agreed to a £151,000 settlement in her doctor negligence lawsuit.
Ray and Angela Hennessy, had brought the legal action against Dr Hassan Al Bayyari, following the untimely death of their daughter Julie in March 2007. It was claimed in the case taken against Dr Bayyari that Julie had visited him twice earlier in the month to complain of pains in her leg which she believed were due to a skiing accident four weeks previously.
Despite Julie raising the prospect of deep vein thrombosis, Dr Bayyari failed to prescribe any medication for her (Julie) or refer her to the hospital for further tests. Two days following Julie’s second visit to Dr Bayyari’s surgery she was found dead in her home. A post-mortem into Julie’s death uncovered that she had died from deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, exacerbated by the oral contraceptive prescribed for her by Dr Bayyari.
After seeking legal advice, the Hennessy’s opted to bring a doctor negligence claim against Dr Bayyari which was due to be heard in the High Court. However, just before the trial was due to commence, Mr Justice John Quirke was told that the two parties had agreed to the out-of-court settlement and that the matter was now resolved.
A seven year old boy, who was born with spastic cerebral palsy due to the negligence of nursing staff prior to his delivery, has had a partial settlement of almost £830,000 for medical negligence at birth injury approved in the High Court
Shane Kenny, was suing the health service through his mother Catherine, due to alleged negligence in the time leading up to his birth on November 2nd 2004.
In the legal action, the judge heard that there had been a failure to act on the results of a cardiotocogragh trace (CTG) which showed that the boy’s foetal heart rate was abnormal. Consequently, Shane was delivered using forceps, which lead to a partial hypoxic event.
The court was advised that, although Shane can attend mainstream education, he is not expected to sit State exams and will never be capable of independent living.
Liability for his (Shane’s) birth negligence injury was admitted by the health service, and an interim award settlement of nearly £830,000 had been agreed between the parties to cover past costs and expenses, and to provide care and education for Shane for the next two years.
While approving the birth negligence settlement, the judge said that he hoped legislation would be introduced within the next two years to facilitate periodic payments to those who had suffered catastrophic injury. The birth negligence award does not take into account for Shane’s future loss of earnings, which will be decided upon in a hearing to be scheduled next year.
A six year old girl, who a cerebral palsy birth injury has seen her legal claim result in an interim settlement of £1.6m.
Isabelle Sheehan was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Ms Sheehan sustained her birth due to the acknowledged negligence of Dr David Corr, who was practising privately from Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, Cork, at the time of Isabelle’s birth in November 2004.
Isabelle’s claim was made through her mother Catherine, who alleged that Dr Corr should have referred her to an expert in foetal medicine when complications started during her pregnancy. Dr Corr stated that he had made a mistake and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill heard at the High Court that an interim settlement of £1.6m had been agreed between the parties.
The £1m settlement is to cover general damages and loss of future earnings for Isabelle, and to pay for the care provided already for the child and future care until October 2013. By that date, it is hoped that a system of periodic payments will be introduced for persons with catastrophic injuries. However, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill stated that if the necessary legislation was not enacted by that time, a lump sum payment must be provided.
The family of a woman who sustained horrific injuries and subsequently died after an inflatable pool slide “bottomed out” has been awarded £13m in a settlement for pool death compensation claim by a judge in Salem, Massachusetts.
Robin Aleo (29) from Boston, Massachusetts, was spending a day by her relative’s swimming pool in July 2006 when she attempted to go down the slide into the pool where her husband and daughter were playing. As she approached the bottom of the inflatable slide, it “bottomed out”, causing her to hit her head on the pool decking.
Robin was rushed to hospital with a fractured neck and was put on life support in a quadriplegic condition. When she showed no signs of recovery, the life support system was turned off and Robin passed away a short time after of her injuries.
Claiming that the slide had been malfunctional and failed to comply with federal standards for inflatable toys, Robin’s husband took the retailer of the slide – “Toys R Us” – to court in a product liability compensation claim.
In the Salem Superior Court, the jury ruled with the argument and found Toys R Us professionally negligent in importing the inflatable slide from China and selling it – both online and in their retail outlets. After a short deliberation, the judge awarded compensatory and punitive damages coming to £13m to the family, saying “Although nothing can bring Robin back, this award will help provide some security for the husband and daughter who lost her.”
A man has been awarded a £3.8m settlement for brain damage from viral encephalitis approved by the High Court. The illness was allegedly misdiagnosed as eczema.
Martin O’Brien developed a rash and itchy sores in January 1996. He was referred to hospital by his doctor, who believed he had scabies and who prescribed benzyl benzoate as a temporary measure.
At hospital, Martin was diagnosed as having eczema and, when his case was reviewed in February, it was claimed in court that he was advised to continue using the treatment prescribed for him in January.
However, by the end of March, he was complaining of aches, pains, fevers, perspiration and memory loss and, after attending the another hospital, on March 31st, Martin collapsed and was admitted to the hospital under the care of Dr. Brendan S Duffy.
Mr Justice John Quirke was told at the High Court that in the aftermath of his collapse, Martin had complained of having a blackout, amnesia, migraines, a stiff neck, a loss of power in his lower limbs and abnormal rolling of his eyes.
By the evening of the 31st March Martin was unable to recognise his wife and, it was alleged, that tests taken after his admission indicated encephalitis and possibly herpes simplex. However, no treatment against the virus was prescribed until April 4th, when Zovirax was prescribed, and on April 5th when Acyclovir was also added to the treatment. Martin stayed in hospital until August 1996.
In the following case brought, it was alleged that Martin suffered severe brain damage as a result of the delay and was described in court as a “child in a man´s body”. Martin is unable to work and has relied for the past fifteen years on care provided by his family.
A settlement of £3.8m without admission of liability was negotiated between legal representatives of Martin´s family and insurers for Dr Duffy. Approving the settlement, Mr Justice John Quirke paid tribute to Martin’s wife, Anna Marie, describing her as “a wonderful lady” and said that part of the award should immediately be paid to the family for the care they had provided.
The mother of a two year old girl, who died after contracting meningitis, has been awarded more than £142,000 in a meningitis lawsuit after the hospital in which the little girl died admitted errors in the way they handled her condition.
Natalie Courtney (28) had taken her daughter hospital on February 19 2006, after Aisling had started suffering from hallucinations and a sore neck. The doctor who treated Aisling diagnosed her as having a 24-hour viral gastric bug and being dehydrated.
Natalie asked for Aisling to be kept in overnight for observation and stayed with her daughter throughout.
After her first examination, a rash developed on Aisling’s back and, early in the morning of February 19, Aisling was placed on a drip. She then developed purple spots on her skin, and Natalie was told that Aisling was being treated for meningitis.
Aisling’s condition got worse and she was moved into the hospital’s intensive care unit. But, at 10.25am, Aisling passed away following a heart attack. The shock overwhelmed for Natalie who, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil heard at the High Court, became socially withdrawn and developed feelings of guilt due to her own failure to intervene in Aisling’s treatment and demand more appropriate action. After seeking legal advice, Natalie sued the hospital for nervous shock caused by Aisling’s death, claiming that she had suffered depressive injuries as a result of the manner in which she had witnessed her child’s death.
The hospital conceded liability late last year – extending and aggravating Natalie’s feelings – and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil accounted for this lack of admission when awarding Natalie £142,000 plus an amount to cover the costs associated with legal representation at the inquest into Aisling’s death.
A woman has her Wenicke Korsakoff claim settled out of court for undisclosed amount. Ms Avril Doyle developed the psychosis after alleged negligence by her surgeon,.
Doyle (46) was described to Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court as a happy and vivacious person prior to undergoing a laparotomy to treat multiple abdominal adhesions in July 2005.
SHe was discharged ten days after her operation, but had to re-admitted for further surgery on August 2 2005 after her condition worsened. She underwent another laparotomy, during which part of her small bowel had to be removed.
It was alleged that, during this operation, medical staff failed to administer the vitamin thiamine as part of Avril’s intravenous feeding and she suffered brain damage as a result. It was claimed in the case brought through Avril’s husband, Dick, that staff failed in their duty to monitor, test and review her “total parental nutrition” management.
As a result of this alleged negligence, the court heard how Avril developed memory problems, became increasingly disorientated and suffered impairment to her cognitive linguistic function – a symptom commonly witnessed in cases of dementia.
After treatment Avril returned home in April 2006 to be cared for by her husband and, more recently, by a specially employed care assistant. She continues to have problems with dizziness, fatigue, emotional fits and depression.
One week into the trial, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was told that the claim had been settled for an undisclosed figure and without admission of liability except for the failure to provide a nutritionist at the hospital during the surgery.
In a wrong drug prescription claim a settlement in the order of £835,000 was awarded to the widow of the victim.
Colm O’Donovan (31) had become unwell in August 2005 with suspected food poisoning, and his wife, Patricia, had called an out of hours medical service. The doctor with the service injected Colm with Cyclamorah, but the following morning his condition had deteriorated. Colm collapsed as he tried to get out of bed and began to suffer seizures.
Patricia contacted the medical service again, and this time Colm was attended by Dr. Johan Dirk van der Meer. Dr. van der Meer diagnosed that Colm’s seizures were in reaction to the first drug and administered an injection of Largactyl – claiming that it would control the seizures. Instead, Colm’s condition disimproved and, shortly after being attended by his GP the following morning, suffered a heart attack and died.
It was claimed in the subsequent action that Dr. van der Meer had failed to conduct a full examination of Colm. This, it was claimed, would have shown a serious illness for which Colm could have received treatment in hospital. It was also alleged that by giving the injection of Largactyl, Dr. van der Meer accelerated the serious illness which eventually lead to Colm’s death.
The judge was told in the court that liability had been admitted by the doctor and the action against the medical service was struck out. Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was also told that an agreement on settlement had been reached between Colm’s family and the negligent party for a compensation of £835,000, which he was satisfied to approve.
Camilla Freehill was finally able to resolve her High Court action of alleged medical negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE) with an undisclosed cancer misdiagnosis award for the health service’s failure to diagnose and treat her breast cancer.
Mr Justice John Quirke heard from the claimant´s counsel, shortly before High Court proceedings were about to commence, that an agreement had been reached with no admission of liability by the health service, but which includes an undertaking to pay for future reconstructive surgery on a private basis.
Ms Freehill (65) was initially referred to hospital in 1993 for mammography and on many occasions thereafter. In 2002 she claims that the hospital wrongly assumed an abnormality in a mammogram related to scar from a previous surgery she had undergone when, she claims, it had in fact failed to ask if she had previously undergone surgery.
Further mammograms in 2004 and 2005 rshowed an area of “architectural distortion”, which in both cases were categorised as benign. A biopsy on the area was not performed until 2007 and cancer was diagnosed in her left breast and lymph nodes.
Within three weeks, Ms Freehill had to a mastectomy procedure and, in her claim, alleged that subsequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy created other medical problems including infections and allergic reactions. Ms Freehill also alleged that the radical surgery would have not been necessary had the hospital properly recognised and acted upon the findings of the earlier mammograms.
Despite the final settlement being reached with no admission of liability by the health service, they admitted a failure to properly diagnose and treat Ms Freehill during a period from 2000 to 2007, but denied any negligence in her treatment prior to 2000 and responsibility for the deterioration of her condition due to the misdiagnosis.
Mark Thomas has just been awarded £3.2million in a hospital settlement for failure to diagnose meningitis, a error which was compounded by the fact that the victim was turned away from Walsall Manor Accident and Emergency Department and his parents were admonished at the time for ‘misusing the emergency services’. It was a second opinion five days after the initial hospital visit that determined that Mark Thomas had meningitis.
In this tragic case, Mark Thomas has been left suffering from brain damage and no short term memory and will never be able to work or live without a carer. The NHS trust involved has apologised to his family.
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Some of the common symptoms include headaches, neck soreness, fever, confusion, vomiting, and light or noise intolerance. Meningitis is a life-threatening condition and has a high mortality rate if untreated and delayed treatment can result in brain damage. Wide-spectrum antibiotics are normally prescribed immediately, even before confirmatory tests are conducted.