The Highest Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia in 2013 ~ part 2

seat belt for blog august 23The following are the top Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia for 2013 ~ part 2:

1.) A $ 10,000,000 verdict for the Plaintiff in Jefferson County, Georgia, Superior Court for Wrongful Death, and Design Defect with Failure to Warn.

The case name was Andrea Eslavan Hernandez as representative of the Estate of Florentino Hernandez v. Hi-Tech Engineering, No. 11-cv-622, and the date of the verdict was March 21, 2013.

The facts as summarized were that on December 29, 2006, the Plaintiff’s husband, Florentino Hernandez, age 53, was working at a lumber mill in Wadley, Georgia when he was doing maintenance on an inactive piece of equipment that was used to process wood when he was hit by a piece of lumber that came from an adjacent active piece of equipment of the same type that Hernandez was working on.

The piece of equipment was controlled by a central unit using software that was developed by the Defendant, Hi-Tech Engineering. The blow from the impact caused Mr. Hernandez to be thrown into spiked rollers that were active causing Mr. Hernandez to die from his injuries.

The Plaintiff’s case against Hi-Tech was based on the fact that the employees were following the instructions given by representatives of Hi-Tech that the employees only had to lockdown machines that were being worked on, therefore, the employees did not know that the activation of one machine could cause the activation of another machine.

It was further argued that Hi-Tech did not provide any manual or written instructions for the software, and that the machines did not have mechanisms that could manually lock down the machines.

The jury, after a four (4) day trial and only thirty-five (35) minutes of deliberation, came back with a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for $ 10 million dollars holding Defendant Hi-Tech 100% liable for the incident.


The Highest Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia in 2013 ~ part 1

tires for product liability blog august 23The following are the top Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia for 2013 ~ part 1:

1.) A $ 16,520,000 verdict for the Plaintiff in DeKalb County State Court for Wrongful Death due to Defective Design and Failure to Warn.

The case was Ganga Chhetri, as Executrix of the Estate of Kharka B. Chhetri v. Michelin North America, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hermanos Izaguirre Tire and Bhim B. Bhista, No. 11A40145-1, and the date of the verdict was October 30, 2013.

The facts as summarized were that on March 11, 2011 a van carrying fifteen (15) people was on I-75 driving on the way to work at Perdue Farms where all the people in the van and the driver were employees. That evening, at 9:00 p.m. approximately, the left rear tire of the van blew out and caused the van to hit the guardrail and then overturn.

The Plaintiff’s husband, Kharka Chhetri, age 50, was a passenger in the van and he died along with another passenger. The other passengers who survived did suffer serious injuries including some amputations. The person driving the van was Bhim B. Bhista, who the Plaintiff names in the lawsuit and alleges negligence by vehicle.

The tire that blew was manufactured by Michelin and the Plaintiff named Michelin in the lawsuit alleging a defective design of the tire. There were other allegations as well against the other Defendants named in the lawsuit. Michelin claimed that, although there was documentation that supported issues of the tire components, it was improving the design. Michelin also tried to lay blame on another Defendant, Firestone, that had done an oil change recently on the vehicle, for failing to notice an issue with the tire’s thread.

After a seven (7) day trial and two (2) days of deliberation, the jury awarded the Plaintiff damages in the amount of $ 20,000 for funeral and burial expenses as well as pain and suffering, $ 5 million dollars for Wrongful Death Damages, and $ 11.5 million for Punitive Damages for which 80% the jury apportioned to Michelin and 20% to the Defendant Driver Bhista.

The jury found no fault on the part of Defendant Firestone. The damages of over $ 16 million was reduced to an actual recovery for the Plaintiff of just over $ 15.5 million since the Defendant Driver Bhista had entered into a Consent Judgement that precluded him from owing any money.


A Jury in Georgia sides with the Plaintiff against Wal-Mart by Awarding $ 1.3 Million in a Premises Liability Case

wet floor sign for august 26 blogIn August of 2010, Kelly Rorro, a young mother at age 22 and 8 months pregnant with her second child, was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Hinesville, GA when she Slipped and Fell hard on a greasy substance on the floor, injuring her back .

Ms. Rorro began having contractions after the fall and was taken to the emergency room by her father.  Fortunately, she was able to carry her unborn child to term and have a successful delivery of the baby thereafter.

Unfortunately, Ms. Rorro, after the delivery of her baby, was diagnosed with an annular fissure which is a back injury that causes a great deal of a pain that is not able to be corrected by surgery.  It was determined that this injury was from the fall at Walmart, and Ms. Rorro and her husband, Mr. Curtis Rorro, sued the store for Failing to Keep Its Premises Safe.

Ms. Rorro was on pain medication until she sought treatment that included a spinal cord simulator which is a device that is insert surgically and sends electronic messages to the brain to block pain. At trial, the jury heard evidence that it was estimated that the cost of this simulator over time would be approximately $ 730,000.00. The jury also heard evidence from the defense arguing that it was unlikely that Ms. Rorro would need this simulator for that length of time.

On August 18, 2014, the jury, after a four (4) day trial and only four (4) hours of deliberation, returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff, Ms. Rorro, who at the time of trial was age 26, for $ 1,286.00.00, for her back injury, and for $ 100,000.00 to Ms. Rorro’s husband, Mr. Curtis Rorro, an Army Solider who fought in Iraq until he was discharged for injuries sustained while on duty in combat, for loss of consortium. At the time of trial, the couple had 3 children as well.


Georgia’s Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts for 2013 ~ part 2

doctors for august 23 blogThe following is a summary of the Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts in 2013 for the State of Georgia ~ part 2:

1.) In another infant brain damage case, the Plaintiff was awarded $ 7.5 million in Fulton County State Court.

The case was Trevor Cole, by and through his Guardian ad Litem Nicholas C. Moraitakis, v. Gregory Sysyn, M.D., and Neonatology Associates of Atlanta, No. 12-VS-195119, and the date of the verdict was June 13, 2013.

The facts summarized are that the Plaintiff, Trevor Cole, and his twin sister were born on July 4, 2009 at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and then discharged the next day with their mother. The parents noticed that Trevor did not eat as much as his sister and that he seemed lethargic.

As a result, on July 8, they took Trevor to the pediatrician. Two (2) days later, on July 11, the parents’ concerns about Trevor continued as he had a low temperature and was still lethargic, so they took him back to the hospital where he was born, Gwinnett Medical Center. Trevor was then transported by helicopter to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta whereby Trevor was placed into the care of Neonatology Associates of Atlanta where two (2) partners took care of little Trevor for the weekend.

On July 14, the following Monday, Trevor was placed into the care of Dr. Gregory Sysyn where he underwent numerous tests that eliminated several potential medical issues. Two (2) days later, on July 16, Trevor underwent an MRI that showed swelling in his brain. Two (2) days after that, on July 18, Trevor was diagnosed with maple syrup urine disease that caused a build-up of a neurotoxic amino acid called leucine leaving him with severe and permanent brain damage.

At trial, it was the Plaintiffs’ contention that Trevor was not properly and timely diagnosed or treated which resulted in brain damage that could have been prevented. Trevor now lives with a feeding tube, is incontinent, and can not talk.

After a two (2) week trial and two (2) days of deliberation, the jury held the Defendants’ were 40% liable, and apportioned 60% of the liability to non-parties, and awarded the Plaintiff a total of $ 7.5 million that was reduced to $ 3 million for the non-party liability.

After motions were filed by the Plaintiffs, attorney’s fees were awarded along with pre-judgement interest for a total award of actually just over $ 4 million.


Georgia’s Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts for 2013 ~ part 1

medical malpractice for august 23 blogThe following is a summary of the Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts in 2013 for the State of Georgia ~ part 1:

1.) $ 17.5 million Jury Verdict for the Plaintiff in DeKalb County State Court for a brain damage case where there was negligent treatment.

The case was Patrick Merritt as Guardian for Sheriod Merritt and Angela Merritt v. Fulton-Dekalb Hospital Authority, d/b/a Grady Health System, a/k/a Grady Memorial Hospital, Grady Health Services Company, Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, Emory Healthcare, The Emory Clinic, Emory University, James E. Richardson, M.D., John H. Culbertson, M.D., Hanjoom Mike Song, M.D., Laura B. Cooper, M.D., Richard A. Nardi, John Doe M.D. 1-2, John Doe PA/CRNA 1-2 and XYZ Corp. 1-2, No.10A26759, and the date of the verdict was March 27, 2013.

The facts summarized were that the Plaintiff, Sheriod Merritt, age 19 years old, was hit by a stray gun bullet when leaving the Walmart in Lovejoy that resulted in a bullet fragment being left in the back of his throat. He was transported to Grady for Emergency Medical Treatment where it was decided that Merritt needed surgery that involved wiring his jaw shut, and that surgery was performed on April 9th, 2008.  Two (2) days later, on April 11th, the physicians decided that Merritt’s jaw should be repaired even though it was still swollen from the surgery on April 9th, and Merritt’s airway was also partially blocked from the April 9th surgery.

Since the physician’s knew that Merritt had a tendency to become agitated when coming out of anesthesia, they determined it was appropriate to have four (4) staff present when he came out of the anesthesia to assist in holding Merritt down after surgery.  After surgery, however, only two (2) of the predetermined four (4) staff were present when Merritt came out of the anesthesia, and, as anticipated, he was agitated and, with only two (2) people present instead of four (4), Merritt was able to pull his breathing tube out and flipped over in the bed whereby he was without oxygen for 7-8 minutes approximately.

Merritt suffered an hypoxic brain injury and went into a coma. He subsequently came out of the coma and received treatment at the Shepherd’s Center.

Merritt, a once vibrate young man who had musical and artistic talent, at the time of trial was age 24, had a four (4) year old son with his girlfriend who was pregnant when Merritt was shot, now could not walk, could only say simple words like “yes” or “no”, and has to use a computer to communicate by using only one finger to type out his words. This will most likely be Merritt’s situation for the rest of his life.

The jury, after a two (2) week trial and fifteen (15) days of deliberation, awarded the Plaintiff’s $ 17.5 million dollars and split liability equally (50/50) between Defendants Emory and Dr. Richardson, and Grady Memorial and Nardi.


Factors that may be Considered when Evaluating a Deviation from the Standard of Care During Breast Augmentation ~ part 2

caduceus for blog post for aug 21This is a follow-up to my blog post titled, “Factors that may be Considered when Evaluating a Deviation from the Standard of Care During Breast Augmentation ~ part 1.”   The following are more Factors that should be considered when determining, in a Medical Malpractice Case involving Breast Augmentation, whether or not there has been a deviation in the Standard of Care, and why these factors are important:

12.) Did the Patient and the Clinician Discuss the Details of What is a Full Recovery and the Time needed for a Full Recovery?

Why is this important? In order for the Patient to plan for a full and successful recovery, the Patient must be educated on issues such as how long the breasts will be sore after surgery (ex. most likely a few days), when will the stitches be removed post-operative (ex. usually 7-10 days), and how long the Patient should plan to be out of work (ex. 2 weeks if the Patient has a desk job, but most likely longer if the Patient has a job involving Manual Labor).

13.) Did the Patient and the Clinician Discuss any Additional Costs that may be Incurred if there is a Complication or Surgical Revision?

Why is this important? Again, in order for the Patient to make an educated decision about surgery, the Patient should take into consideration the long and short term costs of surgery and breast implants and be prepared if there are complications at any time post-operative such as a rupture of the implant, the replacement of an implant, and so forth.

14.) Was the Patient Informed about Mammograms that are Required After Surgery?

Why is this important? It is imperative that the Patient understand that implants may hide over half of the tumors that are cancerous that may be present in the patient that would normally be able to be detected by mammograms. Furthermore, there is a risk of the implant rupturing during a mammogram that the Patient should also take into consideration.


Factors that may be Considered when Evaluating a Deviation from the Standard of Care During Breast Augmentation ~ part 1

stethoscope for aug 19 blogThis is a follow-up to my blog about the woman who had her breasts augmented and recovered $ 1 Million Dollars for the Medical Malpractice involved in said augmentation.

The following are Factors, including, but not limited to, the most important Factors that should be considered when determining in a Medical Malpractice Case involving Breast Augmentation about Whether or Not there was a Deviation from the Standard of Care During said Breast Augmentation, and why these factors are important:

1.) For what Reasons did the Patient indicate for Breast Augmentation, such as: 1.) Correction of Asymmetries; 2.) Congenital Defects; 3.) Cosmetic Breast Enlargement; 4.) Mastectomy for Breast Cancer or other Cancer Risk Reduction; and 5.) Other Reasons?

Why is this important? All of the reasons as set forth herein above are valid and appropriate reasons for a woman to seek breast augmentation.

2.) Did the Clinician Obtain a Complete Medical History of the Patient?

Why is this important? A complete Past Medical History (PMH) of the patient should be obtained that includes, but is not limited to, all past and current illnesses, hospitalizations, surgery, trauma, allergies and medications, as well as the date, location, and physician/surgeon for each hospitalization and/or surgery.

3.) Before Surgery, was a Psychological Evaluation Performed?

Why is this important? Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is present in approximately 5% of patients seeking cosmetic surgery, and cosmetic surgery is not recommended for these patients.

4.) Did the Clinician Perform a Complete and Comprehensive Physical Exam of the Patient?

Why is this important? A complete understanding of the patient can only be obtained by a complete physical examination and history and also plays an important role in making treatment recommendations and decisions.

5.) Did the Patient Present with any Risk Factors for Complications?

Why is this important? The patient must be evaluated for pre-operative risk factors since there are several pre-operative factors associated with an increased risk of surgical site infection that the clinician must be aware of in the patient with all breast surgeries.

6.) Were there any Contra-Indications to Breast Implant Reconstruction Present in the Patient?

Why is this important? The following includes, but is not limited to, Contra-Indications to Breast Implant Reconstruction: 1.) The Patient’s Age as the younger the Patient the more likely that the Implants will need to be Replaced Several times during the Patient’s lifetime; 2.) Is the Patient willing to Follow and Complete any Follow-Up Recommendations; 3.) Does the Patient present with any of the following such as Large Breasts, Ptotic Breasts, Silicon Allergies, Fear of Implant, Previous Implants that Failed, and/or the Adjuvant Radiation Therapy Needed.

7.) Did the Clinician Perform a Pre-Operative Breast Assessment?

Why is this important? It is very important that the Patient is evaluated and screened completely prior to surgery for any preexisting breast issues or diseases, and any risk facts that might preclude or limit cosmetic breast surgery.

8.) Did the Clinician Obtain any Pre-Operative Photos?

Why is this important? It is important at the consultation stage that there is photo documentation since prosthesis may magnify small or tiny blemishes.


Factors that may be Considered when Evaluating a Breach in the Standard of Care for Failure to Diagnose & Delay in Treatment of Cervical Cancer

medical doctor for blog august 16This is a follow up to my blog post about the case against Labcorp for its failure to diagnose a woman for cervical cancer for several years, and when it was finally diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.  The following are Factors including, but not limited to, important Factors that may be Considered in a Medical Malpractice Case involving the Failure to Diagnose and Delay in the Treatment of Cervical Cancer, and why each factor is important:

1.) Which, if any, did the Patient Present of these Types of Symptoms such as: 1.) A change in habits of the urinary/bowel; 2.) Bleeding Post-Coital or Post-Menopausal; 3.) Any other Vaginal Bleeding that is Not Normal; and/or 4.) Pain in the Pelvic or Leg areas.

Why is this important?  This is important since Post-Coital Bleeding or Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding are the most common symptoms for which a patient presents for cervical carcinoma.

2.) Was a Complete and Detailed Medical History of the Patient Obtained and, if so, were any Risk Factors Present?

Why is this important?  A complete and detailed medical history of the patient is very important, if not essential, in order to disclose risk factors that may be pertinent to the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

3.) Was the Patient given a complete Physical Examination?

Why is this important?  At the core of the process of diagnosis for cervical cancer is a complete, accurate, and detailed Medical History as described herein above along with a Physical Examination that is focused and completed carefully.  In order to make the best use of any further testing, it is imperative that the patient’s exam will give the clinician as much information as possible to make determinations for the appropriate further testing.

4.) Did the Patient receive a Routine Screening that can be used to Detect Cervical Cancer in the Early Stages?

Why is this important?  If a patient perviously had cervical carcinoma or has any increased risk factors for cervical cancer, then the patient should be receiving periodic screening.

5.) If there was a Screening Test performed, then What was the Result of said Test?

Why is this important?  New Guidelines for the Screening of Cervical Cancer have been published by The US Preventive Services Task Force and these guidelines also discuss the recommendations for screening models such as tests for human papilloma virus and cytology.


A Young Man Severely Injured in an Automobile Accident in Georgia involving a DUI Driver Recovers $ 3.35 Million

car crash august 14 2014In January, 2013, on the day that many of us might remember as the day when the San Francisco 49ers beat the Georgia Falcons for the NFC Championship, a young man, Blaine Thompson, 39 years old, was in Sandy Springs, Georgia driving on Johnson Ferry Road when he was struck head-on by a GMC truck that crossed the center line. The truck was driven by Keith Skinnner who was leaving a bar and driving under the influence.  Thompson was left with severe injuries to include two (2) broken legs and a broken arm as a result of the crash.

This case had many of the elements of a DUI case where a person was leaving a bar under the influence.  For example, Thompson sued the bar under Georgia’s Dram Shop Act, which I have discussed in other blog posts, that states in part that a bar, and even a convenience store, can be held liable if a patron is served by the establishment, leaves the establishment under the influence, and then subsequently injures another person as a result of being under the influence.  The bar raised a typical defense that it did not know that Skinner was going to be driving that soon after leaving the establishment. The bar ended up settling in mediation with Thompson for an undisclosed amount.

Thompson also sued Skinner for negligence, and his own insurance company under his underinsured/uninsured policy. This is known as “staking” which I discuss on my website. Ironically, both men were insured by State Farm.

Skinner was also charged with serious injury by vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, reckless driving, and DUI by Sandy Springs police whereby Skinner pled guilty being sentenced to three years in prison, and probation for seven years.

The case did not see the inside of a courtroom, however, and was mediated and settled for $ 3.35 million. The case is Thompson v. Skinner, No. 13EV017121. Fortunately, Thompson is reported to be almost fully recovered from the injuries he suffered and he is also back to work.


A Ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals allows Plaintiffs’ to Proceed in their case involving a False Pap Smear Result Case Against LabCorp

microscope for august 7 blogIn January 2006 to September of 2008, Christina Adams, had five (5) Pap Smear Tests all evaluated by LabCorp that LabCorp concluded did not show signs of cancer. However, in August, 2009 when Adams presented to her physician with vaginal bleeding it was determined that Adams had cervical cancer. Unfortunately, by the time the cancer was diagnosed, it had already spread to her lymph nodes.

Adams and her husband brought a case against LabCorp accordingly in DeKalb County, Georgia State Court. LabCorp then moved the case to Federal Court

The expert witness that testified for the Plaintiffs at the U.S. District Court level was Dorothy Rosenthal.  Rosental reviewed Adames’ pap slides with the same type of microscope and method used by LapCorp known as cythotechnologists. LabCorp filed a Motion for Summary Judgement under the “”Daubert rule,” which is a case known from the U.S. Supreme Court case opinion in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), which changed the standards for what is and is not admissible from an expert’s testimony.

The District Court agreed with the Defense and granted the Defenses’ Motion for Summary Judgement stating that the methods of review used by Rosenthal were not sufficient and that she should have used a “blind approach” method when evaluating Adam’s pap smear slides. The blind approach method would mean that Rosenthal would have reviewed slides of both normal and abnormal pap smears not knowing which pap smears she was evaluating and what pap smears were the subject of the litigation.

Adam’s appealed the U.S. District Court grant of the Defenses’ Motion for Summary Judgement to the Georgia Court of Appeals.