Jury: $30M to Florida Woman After Hysterectomy Complications
However, whether the woman will actually collect that money is questionable, as the doctor she sued closed his corporate practice and sought bankruptcy protection after her complaint was filed.
Sarasota medical malpractice attorneys know that patients of private practice doctors may find themselves in similar predicaments. This is why even for simple surgeries, it may be more sensible for patients to patronize larger health care firms.
In Haughie v. Comprehensive Ob/Gyn, the procedure was supposed to be fairly straightforward. The plaintiff had gone to the Wellington doctor to obtain relief from discomfort she was experiencing as a result of a fibroid tumor in her uterus. The surgeon recommended a laparascopic hysterectomy. This 45-minute procedure was not expected to be especially risky. Doctors expected she would return to work within about four days.
But there was a problem. The surgeon nicked the patient’s bladder during the procedure. Additionally, the plaintiff counsel argued, the defense removed the Foley catheter from the bladder too soon following the surgery. This resulted in the patient’s abdomen swelling with urine. In turn, the patient suffered from sepsis, renal failure, hypoxia, anemia and a gastrointestinal bleed.
The 51-year-old patient nearly died, and has never been able to return to work.
She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and his firm nearly two years after the surgery. However, by then, the surgeon’s personal practice was closed and he worked for a different employer. He had also filed for bankruptcy, meaning any debts he incurred – including personal injury claims arising from incidents prior to the filing – would be eligible for discharge.
It’s unclear whether the patient would have been able to collect on her claim anyway, given a 2003 Florida medical malpractice law that caps non-economic damages in these cases. The Florida Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that these caps were unconstitutional in cases of medical malpractice resulting in wrongful death. But for survivors of medical malpractice, it appears the cap still applies – $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the extent of injuries and number of people involved.
The state supreme court is set again to weigh the issue involving medical malpractice patients who do not suffer wrongful death.
In that case, a woman underwent surgery on her leg in 2003 that she says was unnecessary. She had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2002 and a tumor was removed. During a follow-up visit, her surgeon indicated another procedure was required. The patient suffered complications resulting from an infection and she had to be hospitalized. It later turned out the surgery wasn’t necessary. She claims she suffered permanent damage as a result.
Her injuries occurred prior to the passage of medical malpractice damage caps in Florida, though her lawsuit was filed after. She eventually won her case, and the jury awarded her $2 million. However, because of the law, the judge slashed her award to $500,000.
The question before the state supreme court is whether the law should apply retroactively. The court may have opportunity to declare the entire law unconstitutional, though it’s unclear if it will do so.
How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed civil law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.