Weakley County attorney Roy Herron and Nashville attorneys Randy Kinnard and Mary Ellen Morris have achieved something no one else can recall ever having been done in Dresden, Tennessee: Winning a medical malpractice verdict.
And what a verdict it was: a record $15.2 million!
If you believe everything that you hear, you might assume this happens all the time. In fact, the exact opposite is true, which is why it is so newsworthy.
It took a month of trial, but my friend, Roy Herron, and his excellent co-counsel, were able to convince a rural jury that Dr. Susan Lowry of Martin, Tennessee was 60% at fault and the company that owns HealthSouth Cane Creek Rehabilitation Hospital 40% was at fault in a tragic matter.
According to the lawsuit, a 17-year old high school senior had a serious car accident that caused him to have to breathe with a ventilator through his tracheostomy tube surgically inserted in his throat. After his initial care, he was discharged to Cane Creek and at some point became a patient of Dr. Lowry.
But, he was to be returned his surgery clinic for a follow-up later, something the lawsuit alleges never occurred.
According to the lawsuit, his tracheostomy was removed there at Cane Creek without consultations with the surgery center.
Reportedly, the patient developed progressively worse breathing over the next couple days, but he was never put back on the ventilator, nor was he transferred to a hospital. At some point, it appeared that a respiratory arrest caused such a lack of oxygen to the patient’s brain that he suffered permanent brain damage. As such, he is projected to be confined to a bed or wheelchair, and on a ventilator for life.
This verdict, if it stands on appeal, will allow a far greater standard of life for this victim. But it also benefits others, as over Two Million Dollars will pay back the health insurance and the State of Tennessee for the care they have paid for.
Most doctors and rehab facilities do their very best and are quite careful. When they are not as careful, the results are often life-changing tragedies. Some of the medical malpractice cases in which I am involved resulted in death or long-term injuries. It is only the jury system that can cause providers to more careful and to prevent more tragedies.