Texas Hospital Hit with $43M Negligence Verdict after Patient Abandoned by Suspended Doctor

Plaintiff attorney Reid Martin

Plaintiff attorney Reid Martin

A jury has awarded a $43.32 million verdict against Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors, finding the hospital grossly negligent in its retention and supervision of a doctor on probation whose improper care led to a patient’s complete loss of his quality of life and ability to provide for his family.

In reaching the gross negligence verdict, jurors agreed that the hospital had put its patients in extreme risk by allowing Dr. Gary Boyd despite being on probation with the Texas Medical Board. Pursuant to the hospital’s bylaws and policies, the hospital privileges of a doctor on probation are automatically suspended.

Lawyers from Tyler-based Martin Walker PC argued the hospital’s bylaws should have prevented Dr. Boyd from treating 61-year-old Billy Pierce when he was admitted with stomach pain and vomiting in April 2014. Jurors heard testimony that Dr. Boyd erroneously diagnosed Mr. Pierce with an anatomical abnormality he said would make surgery to remove bile duct stones impossible.

Abandoned by doctor

Mr. Pierce was in a medically induced coma for more than a month during which time he was effectively abandoned by Dr. Boyd and the hospital, the Martin Walker trial team argued. When the hospital finally sought a second opinion, the new doctor rejected Dr. Boyd’s diagnosis and performed surgery without complication.

“Hospitals have a supreme duty to provide safe and effective care to patients, and that duty must come before everything else,” said Martin Walker attorney Reid Martin, who along with name partner Jack Walker and attorney Marisa Schouten represented Mr. Pierce. “By allowing a dangerous doctor, who had lost his hospital privileges to continue to treat patients, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”

Dr. Boyd was put on probation in June 2013 after the Texas Medical Board found glaring deficiencies in his treatment of a patient in a case similar to Mr. Pierce’s. In that matter, the medical board found that Dr. Boyd failed to adequately document the patient’s records, inaccurately diagnosed the patient, and performed medically unnecessary procedures. For example, the board found that Dr. Boyd had inaccurately described the location of a patient’s ulcer and claimed that he had performed multiple biopsies to test for cancer when he had not.

The jury verdict included $18.57 million for past and future pain, anguish, loss of earning capacity, and medical care and expenses. The jury found that the hospital was 90 percent liable for the damages, while Dr. Boyd was 10 percent liable. With the gross negligence finding, the jury ordered $25 million in exemplary damages, finding that the hospital’s conduct involved an extreme risk of potential harm to others.

The case is Billy Pierce v East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C in the 241st District Court in Smith County.

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability.

$2.6 Million Settlement for Woman Hit by Cement Truck

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

The husband of a California woman who was killed by a speeding cement truck without brakes recovered a $2,592,090 settlement from the cement company and equipment rental company.

San Francisco attorneys Thomas Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm, represented the plaintiff.  Brandi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys and Malloy is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and NTL Top 40 under 40.

The case is Peter Callaham v. Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., Garston Equipment Rental, Inc., Preston Hanford III and James Ennenga, case number 34-2015-00186933 in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

No brakes

On Monday September 22, 2014, at about 4:12 p.m., Theresa Vargo, the wife of Peter Callaham, was making a left turn onto Rough and Ready Road across California State Route 20 in Nevada County, California.

At the same time, a 2003 Kenworth cement truck operated by James Ennenga of Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., and Garston Equipment Rental, Inc. came flying down the hill on State Route 20, its brakes no longer working.

According to the driver James Ennenga about one week before, the same thing happened: he was driving the same cement truck down the same hill, when the brakes stopped working.  That earlier time, however, Ennenga, unable to stop the cement truck as it came down the hill, had a green light and made it through the intersection without impact.

This time, as he came down the hill without any functioning brakes, he entered the intersection on a red light and destroyed the Vargo vehicle, resulting in her death.  Ms. Vargo, the longtime partner of and newly married to plaintiff Peter Callaham and mother of three.

Plaintiff Callaham brought an action for the wrongful death of his longtime partner and wife. During discovery, defendants admitted that at the time of the accident James Ennenga was driving within the course and scope of his employment with Hanford Sand and Gravel Inc. and that the negligence of defendants were the substantial contributing factors to Ms. Vargo’s death.  Defendants successfully precluded the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages as the court found there was an insufficient basis to find malice.

The total available insurance was $3 million from which funds were expended for the toxic scene clean up costs and related expenses. The matter resolved for Plaintiff Callaham for $2,592,090.73, the available policy limits after payment to the three adult children and remedial clean-up costs.

 

Texas Driver with TBI from Auto Crash Recovers $26 Million Settlement

attorney Brent Goudarzi

Plaintiff attorney Brent Goudarzi

A 30-year old house painter who suffered a traumatic brain injury and aortic injury when his car was struck at a Texas intersection by another vehicle that negligently ran a red light has recovered a $26 million settlement.

Bessy Rodriguez filed suit on behalf of herself, her incapacitated husband Jose Lara Sanchez and their two children in connection with the 2010 crash in Mt. Pleasant, TX. The defendants are Jonathan Cunningham, driver of a pickup truck, and his employer Troy Construction, LLC, which owned the truck. It is Case No. 38,742 in 276th Judicial District Court of Titus County, TX.

The plaintiff’s attorney is Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young, LLP in Gilmer, TX. The case involved 34 depositions taken all over the US as well as more than 20 highly contested court hearings prior to the insurance company Berkshire-Hathaway offered is $26 million insurance policy limit, about five weeks before a jury trial.

Extensive injuries

Mr. Lara was transported by ambulance to a local emergency room, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3 and from there, airlifted to a second hospital for more comprehensive evaluation and care.  A CT scan revealed a fracture of the right temporal bone and right-sided epidural hematoma, with underlying subarachnoid hemorrhage.

He underwent an emergent right triple craniotomy, and two days later, underwent endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of the descending thoracic aorta.  For the next three weeks, Lara was weaned off sedation and managed for rib fractures, scapula fracture, left acetabular fracture, bilateral pulmonary contusions and pneumonia.

He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility, where he got aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapies for five months before being discharged home to his family.  Lara continued to receive physical and speech therapies through outpatient rehabilitation. Altogether, he incurred $1.3 million in medical expenses.

While the plaintiffs alleged the need for lifetime medical care and the inability to return to any level of employment, the defendants alleged that a short course of appropriate outpatient therapy at an accredited rehabilitation facility would provide Lara with independence, including the potential to return to driving and return to working. This allegation was supported by surveillance video conducted over the course of multiple days, which showed Mr. Lara walking unassisted and unsupervised outside of his home, engaging in family outings, communicating with neighbors and even assisting with automotive maintenance.

The defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of Lara for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt, which caused his ejection and the right temporal bone fracture, hematoma and hemorrhage and most, if not all, of his residual physical symptoms, which were primarily left-sided (and controlled by the right side of the brain). Had Lara not been ejected, defendants alleged, he would have sustained no brain injury.

Brooklyn Woman Recovers $18.2 Million for Failure to Diagnose Intestinal Blood Clot

Plaintiff Attorney Steven Miller of Garden City, NY.

Plaintiff Attorney Steven Miller of Garden City, NY.

A jury in New York awarded $18.2 million to a woman who had to have more than 25 surgeries resulting in the loss of her small bowel because doctors failed to diagnose mesenteric ischemia, or inadequate blood flow to the small intestine.

Plaintiff Marianna Zielinska, a 49-year old homemaker, lived in Brooklyn with her husband Edward Sapkowski in 2008 when she presented three times to defendant Lutheran Medical Center with signs and symptoms of mesenteric ischemia.

She was discharged twice with a diagnosis of gastritis/enteritis. On her third presentation she was taken to surgery and eventually found to have portal vein thrombosis.

Zielinska has lost the majority of her small bowel leaving her with short bowel syndrome, which requires her to be on a limited diet, causes her to defecate shortly after a meal and left her with significant abdominal scarring and loss of tissue.

Attorney Steven Miller of  Miller, Montiel & Strano, PC, in Garden City, NY, represented the plaintiff. He is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys. The case is Zielinska v. Lutheran Medical Center et. al., Case Number 22686/10, New York Supreme Court, Kings County.

The verdict amount was $ 18.2 million, including $7 million past pain and suffering, $10 million future pain & suffering and $ 1.2 million past medical expenses.

Lutheran Medical Center settled for an undisclosed sum prior to the verdict. The verdict was rendered against surgeon Corneliu T. Volpe, M.D., who has offices in Brooklyn, NY and was called in during Ms. Zielinska’s second presentation at Lutheran Medical Center from June 13-21, 2008 for surgical consultation. The claim against him was that he misread an abdominal CT that showed evidence of portal vein thrombosis (clot) and ischemic (lack of blood supply) small bowel, hence failure to diagnose.

Further claims were that on her initial presentation at the hospital on June 8, 2008, Zielinska’s blood work and radiology studies indicating mesenteric ischemia were not appreciated and she was sent home with a diagnosis of uterine myoma (benign growth) that did not explain her symptoms.

On her third presentation on June 28, 2008, ischemic bowel was appreciated, she was taken to surgery during which portions of her bowel fell apart, she was admitted until February 26, 2009. During the admission over 20 surgical procedures were performed upon her. After her discharge, she had 4 additional hospitalizations and 4 additional surgeries.

Family of Construction Worker Killed in Fall from Balcony Recovers $7.5 Million

law news, legal news, verdict, settlementThe family an Illinois electrician obtained a $7.5 million settlement after he was killed while installing lighting on a balcony at an apartment complex, and fell after another worker left a guardrail unsecured.

Scott Liszkiewicz, age 50, was installing light fixtures on a second-floor balcony of a maintenance building of the Prairie View Apartments in Bellwood, Illinois, which were undergoing renovations on Nov. 18, 2014, when another construction worker removed the balcony’s rail in order to install siding.  The worker went to lunch instead of immediately reattaching the rail, which appeared to be secured.  

Liszkiewicz suffered head and spinal cord injuries in the two-story fall and died three weeks later.

“It was obvious from the beginning that Scott’s wife Angie was determined to do what she could do to ease his excruciating pain of his catastrophic injuries all the while knowing it was only matter of time until he would pass in the hospital and not in his home.  My heart went out to her and their son Nicholas. We were determined to make sure the two of them would be taken care of to the best of our abilities,” said Philip Corboy, Jr., a Partner at Corboy & Demetrio in Chicago, which represents the estate.

The lawsuit named as defendants, CRG Residential, LLC, a Carmel, Indiana subcontractor; and CRG’s subcontractor RC Schwartz, which was hired to remove and replace siding.  In addition, Urban Innovations owned the project site and retained CRG Residential as its general contractor.

“This senseless tragedy, exemplified by a triad of construction site blunders, took away the life of a loving husband, father and breadwinner.  Miscommunications and sloppy work practices between the two defendants produced this fatality, which was clearly avoidable,” said Corboy & Demetrio Partner Edward G. Willer, who along with William T. Gibbs, also represented the estate.

The case is Angela Liszkiewicz, Administrator of Estate of Scott Liszkiewicz v. CRG Residential, LLC, Chris R.C. Schwartz doing business as RC Construction, Case No. 15C4088, in U.S. Northern District Court. Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. approved the settlement on Dec. 12, 2017.

$12 Million Jury Verdict Against Alabama Transit System

Passengers injured in a 2015 bus crash in Fairfield, Alabama recovered a $12 million jury verdict against MAX Transit – Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority and its driver.

As part of their verdict, the jury also assessed $6 million in punitive damages.

With more than 20 passengers on a MAX Transit bus route, the bus driver lost consciousness, causing the bus to overturn and land in a ravine.

The lawsuit involved 15 of the crash victims, 10 of whom were represented by Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. attorneys Brandon Bishop and Sara Williams.

The case is Charlsye Williams, et al. v. Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Reginald D. Thomas; 68-CV-2015-900100, before Jefferson County, Alabama Circuit Court Judge Annetta Verin.

“For almost three years, the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority has failed to take responsibility for this wreck. We hope they will see this verdict as the rejection of that position by the people of Jefferson County and implement the necessary safety policies to ensure this never happens again,” stated Sara Williams, Managing Attorney of Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C.

Driver passed out twice

During the trial, there was evidence that the MAX Transit bus driver had passed out twice prior to this collision while operating a MAX bus through the greater Birmingham area. The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, which operates the MAX Transit system, had failed to take action after these two prior fainting occurrences.

The injuries of the passengers ranged in severity, with the most severe injury resulting in Charlyse Williams losing her leg. Upon recognizing that the driver was losing consciousness, Williams rushed to the front of the bus in an attempt to prevent the collision. As a result of her selfless act, Williams’ right foot and ankle were so severely mangled that doctors were forced to amputate her leg below the knee.

“We applaud the jury for banding together and taking ownership of this community. Even though none of the jurors rely on MAX bus for their means of transportation, their verdict makes clear that everyone, including those less fortunate than them, are worthy of protection,” said attorney Brandon Bishop.

“We are thankful to this jury for holding MAX Transit and its driver accountable for their failure to avoid what was a very preventable collision. I am proud of Brandon and Sara for the hard work they have put into the case for nearly three years. We as a firm will continue to fight for the safety of not only our clients, but all of those in our community who share the roads with these buses,” stated Alexander Shunnarah, President & CEO of Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C.

 

$5 Million Verdict Against California Restaurant for Death at Dangerous Driveway

national trial lawyers, top 100 lawyers, top 40 under 40A Los Angeles jury held an upscale Santa Monica restaurant liable for $5 million in damages in a premises liability case where a patron exited onto a dangerous driveway, cut off an oncoming motorcyclist and killed him when he fell.

Defendant Terry Allen Turner, a tourist from Oklahoma, had dinner at Geoffrey’s restaurant on the night of March 16, 2011. After dinner, he left the restaurant by turning left onto the Pacific Coast Highway. The highway is one-way street in front of Geoffrey’s restaurant.

Joseph Annocki, age 41, was riding his motorcycle southbound on the highway when he attempted to avoid Turner, who fell off of his motorcycle and was killed.

Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr, the parents of Joey Annocki, sued defendants Terry Allen Turner, Peterson Enterprises LLC, the owner and operator of Geoffrey’s restaurant Jeffrey Peterson, and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), for the wrongful death of their son.

The plaintiff attorneys are Donald G. Liddy and Paula J. Khehra, Liddy Law Firm, Pasadena, CA, and Thomas J. Johnston, Johnston & Hutchinson LLP, Los Angeles, CA. The case is Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr. v. Peterson Enterprises, LLC dba Geoffrey’s Malibu and Terry Allen Turner, No. SC112366, Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica.

Dangerous driveway

The plaintiffs contended that Geoffrey’s or Caltrans should have warned customers about the dangerous driveway leading to the one-way highway. Geoffrey’s contended the “Qwik Kurbs” or median dividers along highway were sufficient to warn customers of the one-way traffic. Caltrans claimed it had no duty to warn.

The case against Geoffrey’s was dismissed by Judge Amy Hogue. A unanimous Court of Appeal reversed, finding that Geoffrey’s had a duty to warn its customers and had notice of the dangerous condition. Particularly because of nighttime conditions, the likelihood of serious injury, the configuration of Geoffrey’s driveway, and the fact that customers are served alcohol.

The jury awarded $5 million in non-economic damages against the defendants. The jury apportioned fault Geoffrey’s Malibu 35% ($1.75 million), Terry Allen Turner 50% ($2.5 million), and Caltrans 15%. Caltrans settled before trial for $1 million.

The court has been asked to approve prejudgment interest of $866,863.68 against Geoffrey’s Malibu, and prejudgment interest of $892,463.79 against Terry Allen Turner.

The plaintiff’s final demand was Peterson Enterprises, LLC:  $1 million on December 26, 2012, and Terry Turner: $125,000 on May 15, 2014. Defendant Peterson Enterprises, LLC offered $500,000.

The plaintiff experts were Brad Avrit, civil engineer, Los Angeles, CA, and Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance, CA.

NJ Jury Awards $15M in Ethicon Pelvic Mesh Verdict

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

 A Bergen County, NJ, jury awarded $15 million to a New Jersey woman who sued Johnson & Johnson after receiving a defective pelvic mesh implant in 2008 that left her in chronic pain

The jury found that one of the two Prolift pelvic mesh devices that plaintiff Elizabeth Hrymoc, of South River, NJ, received in 2008, was defective. It ruled that Ethicon, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that designed the product, failed to adequately warn the woman about the severe chronic pain she suffered.

The jury awarded Hrymoc $4 million for pain and suffering and $1 million for loss of conjugal affection, and assessed $10 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.

Thursday’s verdict is the second in a bellwether pelvic mesh case in New Jersey. It follows another for $11 million that was awarded in 2014. That verdict was later upheld by the Appellate Division, and the Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

The verdict came after nearly three weeks of argument and testimony in just the second pelvic mesh-related lawsuit to go to trial in New Jersey out of nearly 9,000 that are pending.

During opening arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Slater of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman in Roseland, N.J., told the jury that the mesh used in the devices was defectively designed because it caused the mesh “sling” portion of the device to tighten and create tension in the pelvic area and that the mesh can harden and cause erosion.

For more, click NorthJersey.com.

New AAJ Report Details a Year of Heinous Corporate Misconduct

From Takata’s lethal airbags to Monsanto ghostwriting scientific data, to drug companies profiting from the opioid crisis, corporations have time and again put profits before the health and safety of Americans.

A report released Wednesday by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017, details this year’s worst corporate offenders, the aggressive corporate culture plaguing the United States, and the need for a strong civil justice system to make sure consumers and workers can hold corporations accountable and deter corporate misconduct.

As the report indicates, there are no signs that corporations intend to slow down their attack on Americans as they cut their compliance budgets and attempt to free themselves from regulation.

“The misconduct highlighted in this report is a stark reminder that corporations will stop at nothing to protect their profits – even if that means putting consumers and workers at risk,” said Kathleen Nastri, President of AAJ.  “As this report clearly illustrates, Americans need access to the courts so they can get justice and stand up to the onslaught of misconduct.”

One particularly timely section of the report is dedicated to Fox News, which for years has covered up rampant sexual harassment using forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts. Finally, in August of this year, the network revealed that it had paid nearly $50 million to settle sexual harassment and discrimination cases during the previous fiscal year.

Instances of sexual harassment, like those at Fox News, illustrate the need for reform to compel corporations to improve work environments and rein in misconduct.  The “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act,” which was introduced in both the House and Senate last week with bipartisan support, would restore workers’ rights by putting an end to the abusive practice of forced arbitration in workplace sex discrimination claims and give survivors of sexual harassment the opportunity to fight for justice in court.

Click here to download the full corporate misconduct report.