Medical Malpractice Cases
A 2008 jury verdict in excess of $9.8 million in Satterwhite v. Dr. Sekela which is more than 5 times the amount of any prior medical malpractice verdict in the history of Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky and one of the top 10 largest medical malpractice verdicts in the state. The $3,050,000 judgment (i.e., amount judge ordered to be paid) entered against Dr. Sekela and his group is nearly twice the size of the previously reported largest Lexington medical malpractice verdict (i.e., amount jury awards in damages) where on two prior occasions juries had valued a medical malpractice victim’s damages at $1.7 million. The jury assessed 31% of the fault against the heart surgeon, Dr. Sekela, resulting in the $3,050,000 judgment to be collected (i.e., $9.8 million x 31%). The remaining 69% of the fault was apportioned to the anesthesiologist and perfusionist who elected to settle for confidential amounts prior to trial. Immediately after closing arguments Dr. Sekela approached Ms. Satterwhite and apologized.
Below is a narrative of the jury trial, the verdict, the judgment, and a sampling of the trial exhibits that were crafted to simplify the evidence for the jury. Below that are links to various internet reports of this result.
A 2005 jury verdict in excess of $3 million in Vaughn v. Dr. Tuckson, et. al. where Mr. Vaughn was incorrectly diagnosed with a cancer-causing condition, and his colon was unnecessarily removed. Bo assembled a phalanx of internationally renowned expert doctors. These experts included the leading geneticist in the field of inherited colon cancer, Dr. Henry Lynch. The case was tried in Jefferson County against the Louisville colon rectal surgeon to the tune of a jury verdict in excess of $3 million. The client was awarded more than $600,000. The jury apportioned 80% of the total fault against the gastroenterologist from Elizabethtown, who was sued in Hardin County and settled (confidential).
A 1997 jury verdict in excess of $1.7 million in Brown v. Dr. Ross, et al. where during one of three surgeries, a large sponge was left inside Mrs. Brown’s abdomen. She required yet another invasive surgery to remove the sponge and faces potentially life-threatening intestinal problems for the rest of her life. The jury apportioned 88% of the fault against the hospital, which settled (confidential) with Mrs. Brown before trial.
A jury verdict of $700,000 in Hill v. James C. Woodiel, M.D., a case where a 23 year old man died after his family practice doctor failed to recognize he was experiencing a medical emergency called sepsis (i.e. a whole body infection). Instead, the doctor diagnosed the Plaintiff with back pain and told him to return in two days. Unfortunately, the Plaintiff ultimately died about 24 hours later of the sepsis that the doctor failed to recognize.
At trial, three expert physicians – two family practice doctors and an infectious disease doctor – testified on behalf of the Plaintiff. These three experts agreed that Dr. Woodiel failed to recognize the severity of the Plaintiff’s condition, and that the Plaintiff would have lived had Dr. Woodiel sent him to the hospital. In response, Dr. Woodiel retained two expert witnesses to testify that he acted appropriately in recommending followup in the office, and that any errors in care were made in Kentucky. However, upon cross examination at trial, one of Dr. Woodiel’s experts actually agreed with the Plaintiff’s theory of the case that Dr. Woodiel breached the standard of care in caring for the Plaintiff during the office visit.
Bo Bolus and Nick Naiser tried this case for 6 days in front of a Clark County, Indiana jury. After six hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously found in favor of the Plaintiff and awarded her $690,000 in damages for her loss of consortium and $10,000 in damages for funeral expenses.
A jury verdict in excess of $509,000 in King v. Anesthesiology of Paducah P.S.C., where a 22-year-old maternity patient suffered a permanent nerve injury after a nurse anesthetist mistakenly placed a spinal needle too high up the spinal column causing contact with her spinal cord. The goal of the spinal block procedure is to inject anesthesia into the spinal canal, but to inject it low enough to avoid the spinal cord. The maternity patient was undergoing the spinal block procedure at the hospital immediately prior to the scheduled c-section delivery of her first child.
The case was defended with five expert witnesses who testified that the accidental placement of the spinal block at the L1-L2 vertebrae, which is two interspaces too high, met the standard of care because the patient had a congenital tethered cord which caused her spinal column to extend beyond that of a normal spinal column. However, on cross-examination it was learned that over 20% of the population has a spinal cord that extends beyond that of a normal patient and, regardless of the cord’s length, the spinal block was inserted not one interspace too high, but two interspaces too high. As a result, the patient suffered a permanent nerve injury. Fortunately, the baby was born healthy and, following extensive rehabilitation, the mother can walk on her own with an affected gait.
Mike Augustus tried this case for 4 days in front of a Paducah jury of 12 that unanimously found in favor of the Plaintiff and awarded her $500,000 in damages for her physical and mental pain and suffering as well as the full requested amount of medical bills of $9,152.00. That jury verdict is the third highest recorded medical negligence verdict in the history of Paducah, Kentucky.
- A $328,199 jury verdict in Burris v. Daniel Young, Robert Young, and Robert Young and Daniel Young DMD, where a patient’s general dentists missed her gum disease for 4 years. As a result of the missed diagnosis, Ms. Burris had fourteen teeth pulled and replaced with painful and unsightly dental implants. The defendants mounted a vigorous defense at trial, arguing that Ms. Burris’ lifestyle choices led to the loss of her teeth, that she did not have gum disease, and that even if they did miss the gum disease it did not cause Jennifer to lose her teeth. After lengthy deliberations, the jury ultimately found in favor of Ms. Burris, awarding her what is the largest recorded dental malpractice jury verdict in Kentucky.
- A confidential settlement in a medical malpractice case where a patient died from anaphylaxis, i.e., suffocated to death from an allergic reaction to medication, after an otherwise uneventful neck surgery.
- A confidential settlement in a medical malpractice case where a patient died from anaphylaxis, i.e., suffocated to death from an allergic reaction to medication, during a tooth extraction procedure.
- A confidential settlement in a medical malpractice case where a patient died from a brain aneurysm that was misdiagnosed and then ruptured.
- A confidential settlement in a medical malpractice case where a patient died due to the mishandling of an acute dissection of the ascending aorta which required emergency surgery which the patient did not receive. The same condition took the life of John Ritter of Three’s Company sit-com fame.