Verdicts & Settlements
Henry v. Children's Medical Group, P.A.
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Allegany County in excess of $7,000,000.00, the largest verdict in Allegany County history to date. The case was filed by the parents of a severely disabled five year old girl. Their daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, but was otherwise perfectly normal. The congenital heart defect, known as coarctation of the aorta, matures over the first week to ten days of an infant’s life and eventually results in an obstruction of the aorta. No sign of the congenital heart defect was detectable at the time of their daughter's birth because the obstructive process had not yet matured.
In the weeks following the daughter's discharge from the hospital, they met with Dr. Levitas at Children's Medical Group for the standard newborn follow up evaluation. Despite repeatedly displaying signs and symptoms of an abnormally rapid heart rate at each visit, Dr. Levitas documented a "normal exam" in his electronic medical record system. Once the obstructive process matured, the heart – which had been beating at a rapid rate for many days – could no longer beat hard enough or fast enough to overcome the obstruction, and the baby’s heart failed, and she suffered a cardiac arrest, which caused a massive brain injury.
Had Dr. Levitas sent the daughter to a pediatric cardiologist at the time of either the first or second office visit, an ultrasound of the heart would have been performed as a routine part of the cardiac evaluation and would have revealed the heart defect. Once the diagnosis was made, the daughter would have been hospitalized and would have undergone a simple and relatively straight forward surgery that would have fully corrected the heart defect. Had the defect been corrected, the baby would not have suffered massive and permanent brain damage.
McConville v. Muhammad Afzal, M.D.
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City of $958,000. The case involved misplacement of a feeding tube through the stomach and into the abdominal cavity of a 58 year old woman, Catherine McConville, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is paralyzed and non verbal.
Dr. Afzal of Digestive Diseases Associates placed the feeding tube, but did not confirm the location of the tube within the stomach before releasing Ms. McConville to her home with instructions to use the tube for feeding. When the tube was subsequently used, the sterile abdominal cavity was contaminated, provoking a massive peritonitis and extended hospitalization. The jury found that Dr. Afzal of Digestive Disease Associates was negligent in choosing not to check his work before releasing the patient. The uncontradicted evidence was that there was a safe, reliable, inexpensive and readily available test to verify tube location and that it would have revealed the stomach perforation. Had the perforation been discovered, it could have been readily repaired and McConville’s severe and critical illness would have been avoided.
Wichelman v. Georgetown University Hospital
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in Superior Court for the District of Columbia of $10,000,000. The plaintiff was a young physician who was a resident at Georgetown University Hospital. Part way through her residency in emergency medicine, the plaintiff noticed a lump in her breast. The plaintiff visited her physician and expressed concern about the possibility of breast cancer, but her physician concluded she was “too young” to be at risk for breast cancer and did not recommend a biopsy. The plaintiff later developed complaints of bloody discharge from the nipple. Another doctor recommended and performed a biopsy, which established a diagnosis of breast cancer. At the time the case was tried, the plaintiff had been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and told that she faced a much diminished life expectancy. After the verdict, the trial judge granted a motion for new trial filed by the defendant. The case was subsequently settled on confidential terms.
Bankert by Bankert v. United States, 937 F.Supp. 1169 (D. Md. 1996)
This medical malpractice and birth injury case, in which the firm represented the plaintiffs, resulted in a judgment of $593,000. A 32 year old woman with a history of two prior caesarian sections agreed to attempt a trial of labor with her third pregnancy, in an effort to achieve a vaginal delivery. After 12 hours of labor with minimal progress, she requested but was refused a caesarian section. Two hours later, her uterus ruptured, and her daughter was born with low Apgar scores and evidence of brain injury. The lawsuit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, since the husband and father of the plaintiffs was in the Air Force and the medical care was provided by at a hospital on a military base. The plaintiffs claimed that the continued trial of labor despite the request for a caesarian section represented a violation in the standard of care and of the patient’s right to informed consent. The plaintiffs also alleged that once the uterine rupture occurred, there was a delay in delivery of the baby. The case was tried in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiffs for $593,000 by the federal judge in a published opinion.
McAlexander v. Sitaris
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County of $4,000,000. The plaintiff was a young woman with a history of low back degenerative disc disease. She presented to a neurosurgeon with new complaints of worsening pain, difficulty walking, and inability to urinate. The plaintiff’s complaints were suggestive of cauda equina syndrome, and emergency surgical intervention was required but not provided. Due to the resulting delay in decompression of the spinal cord, the plaintiff developed permanent neurologic injury. Though the jury verdict was $4,000,000, it was reduced on post-trial motions, as Maryland has a statutory cap on non-economic, i.e., pain and suffering, damages.
Panzer v. Maryland General Hospital
This medical malpractice and wrongful death case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City of $3,420,000. In this case, a young, otherwise healthy, woman complained of headaches, memory loss, and numbness in her hands. She was referred by her primary care physician to a neurologist, who ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed an arteriovenous malformation (“AVM”). An AVM is an abnormal lesion in the brain, which is susceptible to bleeding. When an AVM is identified, the standard of care requires further evaluation by means of urgent angiogram and follow up neurosurgery to eliminate the risk of brain bleeding and the associated risk of permanent and irreversible brain injury. Once an AVM has been diagnosed, the standard of care also requires that patients be advised of the early warning signs of bleeding, including a worsening headache, nausea, and vomiting. The standard of care further requires that a patient with a documented, but untreated, AVM receive emergency evaluation and treatment upon presentation of symptoms suggestive of bleeding. The standard of care was not met in this case, and several weeks after diagnosis of the AVM the patient developed nausea, vomiting, and the worst headache of her life. The patient called her primary care physician, who advised her to lie down and go to the emergency room only if her condition worsened. The patient did as she as instructed, and she died at home as the result of a massive brain bleed. Though the jury verdict was $3,420,000, it was reduced on post-trial motions, as Maryland has a statutory cap on non-economic, i.e., pain and suffering, damages.
Melnick v. Mid-Atlantic Cardiology Associates, P.A.
This medical malpractice and wrongful death case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City of $1,271,947. In this case, a 40 year old married man, a father of three, presented to his primary care physician with a complaint of heart palpitations over the preceding week. The primary care physician administered an EKG, which showed significant abnormalities and resulted in the patient’s admission to a local hospital. An urgent cardiac catheterization revealed dilated cardiomyopathy (characterized by dilatation and decreased function of the left ventricle of the heart) with normal coronary arteries and global hypokenesia (diminished movement of the heart muscle). The physicians were initially unable to explain the patient’s sudden onset, rapidly progressive, and intractable heart failure with uncontrollable arrythmias. Though the physicians knew the only way to establish a diagnosis was by heart biopsy, and though consideration was given to the performance of a biopsy, the decision was nonetheless to forego biopsy. A cardiac defibrillator was implanted in the patient’s chest, and he was discharged from the hospital despite continued non-sustained ventricular tachycardia and other evidence of progressive heart failure. The patient’s discharge diagnosis was non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy of unknown origin. The patient actually had a condition known as giant cell myocarditis, a rapidly progressive disease that requires urgent administration of drugs to suppress the immune system pending heart transplant. Because of the failure to perform a heart biopsy and make the diagnosis, the patient was deprived of the appropriate treatment and went on to die of heart failure.
Hill v. Wilson, 134 Md.App. 472, 760 A.2d 294 (2000)
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiff, resulted in a recovery of $576,000 after the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the jury verdict and judgment entered in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The plaintiff was a young man who had been paralyzed from the waist down since 1987. On August 30, 1994, he went to the emergency room complaining of nausea, cloudy urine, and an ulcer on his lower back. The plaintiff’s emergency room physician did not inquire about the duration of the ulcer, did not manually palpate or otherwise touch the ulcer, and made an incorrect diagnosis on the basis of an inadequate examination. The physician merely lifted the bandage that the plaintiff had placed on the ulcer at home, glanced at the sore and placed the bandage back on, with the comment that the ulcer was not the cause of the plaintiff’s problem. The plaintiff followed the physician’s advice, made the first available appointment with a plastic surgeon for treatment of the ulcer, took his prescribed medicine, and cleaned and dressed the ulcer every day. Approximately a week after the emergency room visit, the plaintiff noticed an unusual odor coming from the ulcer. He returned to the hospital on September 14, 2004. Upon his arrival, the plaintiff was diagnosed as suffering from a severe infection and was admitted to the hospital. Due to complications from the infection, above the knee amputations had to be performed on both of the plaintiff’s legs.
Igwilo v. Que
This was a medical malpractice and birth injury case in which the firm represented the plaintiff, and in which the outcome was a settlement of $1,000,000. The plaintiffs alleged that the ob-gyn physician violated the standard of care while providing pre-natal care, and as a result failed to properly diagnose the mother’s preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension). This resulted in brain injury to the fetus, as well as injury to the mother. After the physician’s malpractice insurance carrier went into receivership, the plaintiffs litigated with Maryland’s Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Corporation (“PCIGC”) the issue of whether there was more than one “covered claim” within the meaning of relevant statutes as well as within the meaning of the physician’s insurance policy. See, Igwilo v. Property Insurance, 131 Md.App. 629, 750 A.2d 646 (2000). After the Court of Special Appeals ruled the plaintiffs had two “covered claims,” the case settled for a total amount of $1,000,000, with a portion paid by PCIGC and a portion secured by a confessed judgment against the physician as to which collection was sought and made against the receiver of her malpractice carrier.
Rankin v. Kim
This medical malpractice and wrongful death case, in which the firm represented the plaintiffs, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Allegany County of $320,000. The jury determined that Dr. Kim, a radiologist, was negligent in performing a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (“PTC”) with internal and external stent placement and that Dr. Kim’s negligence was a proximate cause of the patient’s injuries that led to her death.
Dechter v. Maggid
This medical malpractice case, in which the firm represented the plaintiffs, resulted in a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County of $437,437.74. The patient suffered a perforation to her sigmoid colon during a laparoscopic oopherectomy. Dr. Maggid failed to identify one frank perforation and two additional serosal tears that he caused during excision of the patient’s left ovary, which was “encased” in bowel. The patient was discharged home and developed peritonitis over the course of the next 30 hours. She underwent emergency surgery, required a two week hospital stay, had a colostomy for 11 months, and had a subsequent surgery to revise the colostomy. The patient made a full recovery.