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Georgia’s Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts for 2013 ~ part 1


The following is a summary of the Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts in 2013 for the State of Georgia ~ part 1:

1.) $ 17.5 million Jury Verdict for the Plaintiff in DeKalb County State Court for a brain damage case where there was negligent treatment.

The case was Patrick Merritt as Guardian for Sheriod Merritt and Angela Merritt v. Fulton-Dekalb Hospital Authority, d/b/a Grady Health System, a/k/a Grady Memorial Hospital, Grady Health Services Company, Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, Emory Healthcare, The Emory Clinic, Emory University, James E. Richardson, M.D., John H. Culbertson, M.D., Hanjoom Mike Song, M.D., Laura B. Cooper, M.D., Richard A. Nardi, John Doe M.D. 1-2, John Doe PA/CRNA 1-2 and XYZ Corp. 1-2, No.10A26759, and the date of the verdict was March 27, 2013.

The facts summarized were that the Plaintiff, Sheriod Merritt, age 19 years old, was hit by a stray gun bullet when leaving the Walmart in Lovejoy that resulted in a bullet fragment being left in the back of his throat. He was transported to Grady for Emergency Medical Treatment where it was decided that Merritt needed surgery that involved wiring his jaw shut, and that surgery was performed on April 9th, 2008. Two (2) days later, on April 11th, the physicians decided that Merritt’s jaw should be repaired even though it was still swollen from the surgery on April 9th, and Merritt’s airway was also partially blocked from the April 9th surgery.

Since the physician’s knew that Merritt had a tendency to become agitated when coming out of anesthesia, they determined it was appropriate to have four (4) staff present when he came out of the anesthesia to assist in holding Merritt down after surgery. After surgery, however, only two (2) of the predetermined four (4) staff were present when Merritt came out of the anesthesia, and, as anticipated, he was agitated and, with only two (2) people present instead of four (4), Merritt was able to pull his breathing tube out and flipped over in the bed whereby he was without oxygen for 7-8 minutes approximately.

Merritt suffered an hypoxic brain injury and went into a coma. He subsequently came out of the coma and received treatment at the Shepherd’s Center.

Merritt, a once vibrate young man who had musical and artistic talent, at the time of trial was age 24, had a four (4) year old son with his girlfriend who was pregnant when Merritt was shot, now could not walk, could only say simple words like “yes” or “no”, and has to use a computer to communicate by using only one finger to type out his words. This will most likely be Merritt’s situation for the rest of his life.

The jury, after a two (2) week trial and fifteen (15) days of deliberation, awarded the Plaintiff’s $ 17.5 million dollars and split liability equally (50/50) between Defendants Emory and Dr. Richardson, and Grady Memorial and Nardi.

2.) A $ 13,946,215 million dollar verdict for the Plaintiff in Gwinnett County State Court for a baby born with brain damage who suffered pulmonary/respiratory hypoxia, grand-mal seizures, cerebral palsy, and ischemia due to the Defendant’s negligence at childbirth.

The case was Melissa Dempsey f/k/a Melissa Watson, Individually and as Parent and Next Friend of Kailey Watson, a Minor v. Jonne Sveum, Deloris Kanhai, R.N., Kediga Khalid, R.N. and Gwinnett Health System, No. 09C20372-4, and the date of the verdict was January 25, 2013.

The facts summarized are that on August 17, 2002, the Plaintiff, Melissa Dempsey, went to Gwinnett Medical Center to give birth to her child, Kailey Watson. At childbirth, newborn Kailey Watson was diagnosed with severe injuries including cerebral palsy.

The Plaintiffs’ allegation against the Defendants was that the Defendants, during labor and delivery, did not properly recognize from the fetal monitor strip that the fetus was in distress and, as a result, the fetus was deprived of oxygen that caused hypoxic ischemic injury that ultimately resulted in Kailey’s neurological injuries that included seizure at the time of delivery, cerebral palsy, severe developmental delay, and continuing grand-mal seizures.

The jury determined there was no liability on the part of the Defendants Khalid and Kanhai, and placed all the liability on Gwinnett Health System of Lawrenceville, Georgia with a Plaintiff’s verdict of over $ 13 million.

I will continue with two (2) more of Georgia’s Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts in my next blog titled, “Georgia’s Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts for 2013 ~ part 2.”

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are legal experts at Medical Malpractice cases so if you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a doctor, hospital, nurse, or the like, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.