Unnecessary Back Surgery Leads to Settlement Against Emory Surgeon
Paul Harn, a 25 year old truck driver, sustained an injury to his lower back while on the job. His primary care doctor sent him for an MRI of his lower back. The MRI showed he had a herniated disc at the L5-S1 level of his spine and that the rest of his spine was normal. His doctor sent him for one steroid injection that only gave him relief for a short time, at which point he was referred to Dr. Tim Yoon at the Emory Spine Center. Dr. Yoon read the MRI and determined that not only was there a herniated disc at L5-S1 but also severe stenosis at L4-5. Instead of trying any more steroid injections and without attempting physical therapy, instead Dr. Yoon, on this first appointment, scheduled surgery for Mr. Harn. Based upon Dr. Yoon’s reading of the MRI, he did surgery not only on the herniated disc at L5-S1, but also a comprehensive laminectomy at L4-5 resulting in a significant amount of bone removal at that level. Unfortunately, Mr. Harn suffered tragic results from this surgery, including a subsequent multi-level back fusion surgery, and surgery to implant a spinal stimulator in his back. Mr. Harn has been rendered unable to work and permanently impaired since the surgery by Dr. Yoon, and he will likely be on pain medicine for the rest of his life. Mr. Harn filed suit against Dr. Yoon and The Emory Clinic, alleging that the surgery at the L4-5 level was unnecessary, and that it was the bone removal from this surgery that left his back unstable, and that the instability led to failed back syndrome and his subsequent surgeries and pain. Mr. Harn’s medical expenses totaled over $250,000.00. After more than 2 years of litigation and multiple expert depositions, the parties were able to settle their case at a mediation on August 30, 2006 for a confidential amount. The case is Paul Harn and Maricela Harn vs. Sangwook Timothy Yoon, M.D. and The Emory Clinic, State Court of Dekalb County, Civil File No.: 04A17034-3.
Jury Finds Allstate Insurance Co. Acted in Bad Faith for Denying Theft Claim
Earl Randolph had a long time hobby of recording music and playing music. Over the years he had purchased several items to make up a home recording studio that he kept in his bedroom. When Mr. Randolph moved into his new apartment, he took a brochure from the leasing office from Allstate and called the local Allstate agent to purchase renters insurance. He told the agent he had $20,000.00 dollars worth of home stereo and recording equipment and that it was for his own personal use, and Allstate gave him a $30,000.00 renters policy. Every year or two when it was time for a renewal, Mr. Randolph would increase his policy limits, telling Allstate he purchased additional stereo and recording equipment. Allstate would issue him a policy with higher limits and would raise his premium each time. Mr. Randolph paid all of his premiums on time. While out of town on vacation, Mr. Randolph’s apartment was broken into and most of his personal property, including all of his stereo and recording equipment, was either damaged or stolen. Mr. Randolph immediately notified Allstate, and provided Allstate with a list of items stolen and receipts. Allstate valued the property at over $70,000.00. However, Mr. Randolph only had a policy limit of $54,000.00 so he demanded that Allstate pay him his policy limits. After delaying for almost one year, Allstate finally offered Mr. Randolph only a little over $8,000.00, telling him they were denying most of his claim because they considered his property to be business property excluded by the policy. Allstate made this assertion despite having no evidence that Mr. Randolph ever used the equipment for anything other than personal use. Mr. Randolph sued Allstate for breach of contract, bad faith, attorneys fees and punitive damages for fraud. A trial was held from April 26-28, 2006, and a jury awarded damages for breach of contract, attorneys fees, interest and bad faith totaling $107,500.00. The court also sanctioned Allstate $1,000.00 during trial for attempting to introduce documents at trial they had hidden from Plaintiff during the case. The jury did not award punitive damages, though several jurors stated they wanted to. The case was Earl Randolph v Allstate Insurance Company, et al., Superior Court of Fulton County, Civil Action File No. 2003CV79644.
Minor Property Damage Truck/Automobile Accident Settles for $150,000.00
Nancy Cummings had worked for Rooms to Go as a sales person for several years. On her day off, she was delivering a lamp to a customer. While driving on I-20 West of Atlanta in rainy weather, she attempted to change lanes when the side of her car was struck by the side of a tractor-trailer. There was no damage to the truck and mostly scratches and dents to the car. As a result of the accident, Ms. Cummings aggravated a pre-existing back injury as well as a pre-existing knee injury. Both her neck and back required surgery and she was forced to retire from her job at Rooms To Go because of her disability. Ms. Cummings filed suit against the truck driver and the trucking company, alleging that the driver improperly changed lanes and collided with her car. The defendants claimed that both vehicles were moving into the same lane at the same time and that the accident was no one’s fault. They also claimed that the minor accident could not have caused the severe injuries being claimed by the Plaintiff. The case settled for $150,000.00 shortly after an unsuccessful mediation, and a judgment was entered against the Defendants. The case was Nancy Cummings v. Werner Enterprises, Inc. and Dennis Brown, United States District Court, Civil Action File No.: 1:05-CV-0451.
Casino Pays $65,000.00 To Settle Sidewalk Trip and Fall
JoAnn Vaughn was driving with her family from Georgia to Texas for her grandson’s graduation. On the first night of the trip, they stopped in Lake Charles, Louisiana to spend the night at the Isle of Capri Hotel, which is next to the Isle of Capri Casino. The next morning while walking on the sidewalk from the hotel to the restaurant inside the Casino, Ms. Vaughn tripped on a raised section of sidewalk and fell forward, fracturing both of her arms. Because of the injury she was unable to attend the graduation and flew back to Georgia to seek medical treatment. After surgery and a few months of medical treatment, Ms. Vaughn was able to make a near complete recovery. A suit was filed against the Casino as the owner of the sidewalk, alleging that they were negligent in maintaining a dangerous condition, and that they should have known about and repaired the sidewalk where one section was raised. The Casino claimed that the condition of the sidewalk was open and obvious, that there were no prior falls and that the condition was not dangerous. After several months of litigation and negotiations, the parties settled the case for $65,000.00. The case was Joann Vaughn v. St. Charles Gaming Company, Inc., et al., 14th Judicial District Court, Parish of Calcasieu, State of Louisiana, Civil Action File No. 2004-004486.
Low Property Auto Accident Settles for $100,000.00 For Chiropractic Student
On May 10, 1998 , David Zucker and Defendant David Mitchell were involved in an automobile collision on the Interstate 75 Southbound exit ramp at Windy Hill Road in Cobb County . The Defendant’s vehicle impacted the Plaintiff’s vehicle from the rear. The impact hit the spare tire that was mounted on the rear of Plaintiff’s Nissan Pathfinder and punctured the tire, but caused no damage to the vehicle. As a result of the collision, Plaintiff began experiencing pain and discomfort in his neck, and he sought medical treatment from a chiropractor. The Plaintiff was a chiropractic student at Life College, and chiropractic was his preferred method of treatment. When his neck pain failed to subside, Plaintiff was referred for an MRI. The MRI revealed a herniated disc in the Plaintiff’s neck, as well as a congenital condition causing a narrowing of the spinal column. Plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation, and it was the opinion of the surgeon that Plaintiff would need future surgery. Four years after the accident, the Plaintiff did undergo neck surgery. The initial offer to settle of the insurance company was $1,000.00. The case settled for $100,000.00 a few days before the trial was to begin. The case was David Zucker v David Mitchell, State Court of Cobb County.
Truck Swerves Into Car Causing Moderate Damage Resulting In $150,000.00 Settlement
Alvin Cuffie was driving a tractor-trailer in Atlanta when he swerved out of his lane and struck Sherry Turner’s automobile on July 28, 1997, injuring the Plaintiff. Mr. Cuffie had been dispatched by his employer from Columbus, Ohio, to pick up a load in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Cuffie then delivered his load to Pendergrass, Georgia on July 28, 1997, the day of the accident with Ms. Turner. After delivering his load, Mr. Cuffie left Pendergrass and struck Plaintiff’s vehicle on Interstate 285 outside Atlanta . The Plaintiff suffered neck and back injuries, including a herniated disc in her neck that ultimately required neck surgery in 2003. The truck driver’s driving logs indicated that he had violated federal laws on the number of hours someone can drive without rest. The case settled after mediation. The case was Sherry Turner v Alvin Cuffie & Advanced Distribution Systems, Inc., State Court of Fulton County.
Truck/Auto Collision Results In Settlement for Plaintiffs of $325,000.00
On August 7, 2001, plaintiff Eric Crabtree and his daughter, Sydney, were traveling Westbound on Main Street in Cartersville, Georgia. The defendant, Kenneth Fisher, was driving a tractor trailer Eastbound on Main Street. There were two lanes in each direction. Fisher was in the right lane. As they approached the intersection with Church Street, the Crabtrees entered the left turn lane to turn on to Church Street. The light was green when the Crabtrees entered the intersection, but because of traffic traveling in the other direction, they were unable to complete their left turn before the light turned red. As the light turned from yellow to red, a car ahead of Fisher’s truck and traveling in the left hand lane slowed to stop. . Crabtree, seeing the car coming to a stop, began his left turn in order to clear the intersection. Mr. Fisher was well behind the car that was stopping for the light, but did not slow for the light, and instead ran through the red light, and collided with the Crabtree’s. Thus, the light was red when both plaintiff and defendant were in the intersection and collided. Mr. Crabtree sustained serious injuries including a broken arm, torn knee ligaments, and back injuries. Sydney Crabtree suffered facial cuts, and has a couple of small scars on her forehead that may require surgery in the future. Plaintiffs contended that defendant Fisher was negligent for running the red light. Defendants countered that Mr. Crabtree was negligent for turning left on a red light. The case settled for $305,000.00 for Eric Crabtree and $20,000.00 for Sydney Crabtree a few days after mediation. The case was Eric Crabtree, Individually and as Parent of Sydney Crabtree, a Minor, and Lauren Crabtree v. Kenneth Fisher, Watkins & Son, Inc. and Great West Casualty Company, United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division.
Doctor Malpractice Results in Partial Blindness for Victim Verdict for Plaintiffs $4,700,000.00.
In this case, Shawn Wert was a longtime Coumadin patient who required that her blood be regularly monitored. Dr. Edward Weiser performed abdominal surgery on Ms. Wert in May, 1998, and after discharging her from the hospital, he failed to monitor Ms. Wert’s blood clotting levels. As a result, Ms. Wert suffered a hemorrhage and lost her vision in one eye, was left with diminished vision in her other eye, and had debilitating migraine headaches. The jury awarded $5 million to Shawn Wert and $500,000 to Michael Wert for his consortium claim, the exact amount that we asked the jury to award. That amount was reduced to $4.7 million after adding interest and reducing the award by 24% for comparative negligence. The case was Shawn Wert & Michael Wert v Edward Weiser, M.D., et al, State Court of Fulton County.
Failure to Monitor Patient By VA Hosptial Results in Death of Patient – Settlement for Plaintiff, $200,000.00
Plaintiff’s husband underwent coronary artery bypass grafting at Emory University Hospital, returned one week later with drainage from the chest tube site, and was admitted to the ICU for treatment of a staph infection. After another unsuccessful operation, Mr. Schrems suffered a stroke. Mr. Schrems was transferred from Emory University Hospital to the VA Hospital for rehabilitation. While in the SICU, Mr. Schrems required frequent suctioning of his tracheostomy tube due to his inability to expectorate thick secretions. For some reason, Mr. Schrems was transferred from the SICU to a room of the VA Hospital. While in the room, Mr. Schrems was not continuously monitored with pulse oximetry, and there was no suctioning of Mr. Schrems’ tracheostomy tube. As a result. Mr. Schrems choked and was left in a vegetative state. His family decided to discontinue life support. The case was Caroline Schrems v United States of America, United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia.
Failure to File Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $400,000.00 Settlement for Legal Malpractice
A pre-suit settlement was reached in a legal malpractice case that arose after an attorney failed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit before the expiration of the statute of limitations. The amount of the settlement was $400,000. Plaintiff’s decedent, Harry Taylor, presented to a physician. The physician negligently inserted a halo screw through Mr. Taylor’s skull and into his brain. Mr. Taylor developed cognitive problems as a result of the injury. He retained Defendants John Doe, Esq. and Doe & Doe, Attorneys at Law to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on his behalf. However, the lawsuit was not filed in a timely manner and Mr. Taylor was barred from filing a complaint. Mr. Taylor subsequently died of complications from the malpractice. Defendants admitted negligence and agreed to settle this matter. Mr. Taylor was a 58 year old married male who was a retired maintenance worker. The case was Susan Taylor as Administratrix of the Estate of Harry Taylor v. John Doe, Esq. and Doe & Doe, Attorneys at Law.