State Laws Sometimes Interfere in Malpractice Claims

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download (68)In a rare instance in the state of Wisconsin, two large medical malpractice claims have been paid. The settlements came, however, after significant legal hurdles.

In Wisconsin, because of laws that are designed to limit who can sue for malpractice and how much they can collect if their case is won, it can be hard for anyone in the state to find a lawyer willing to take a malpractice case. Any case that is over $1 million dollars is backed by a state funded insurance fund of $1.2 billion dollars. Such laws can make it very frustrating for patients and their families.

The first case involves the estate of a woman who died after a doctor placed a breathing tube down her esophagus and then refused to remove it. After a car accident in 2011, Colleen Daniels, 56, died because a doctor at Calumet Medical Center in Chilton refused to remove a breathing tube from her esophagus. Paramedics and other medical personnel pleaded with the doctor in the emergency room but to no avail.

Since Daniels was a divorced mother of three adult children — including a daughter who was an 18-year-old high school student living at home when her mother died — Wisconsin’s state law prevented anybody from suing for medical malpractice.

As a result, the Daniels estate, filed a pain and suffering lawsuit on behalf of the estate. Attorney for the estate, Michael End, argued that the woman was in pain and was fully aware that her medical treatment had gone horribly wrong.

Even the physician responsible for Daniels’ death, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali acknowledges that the treatment was reckless and caused her death. Ali also contends that the settlement that the family received, somewhere in the low six figures, was certainly not enough.

Ali’s medical license was suspended in 2014 for his treatment of Daniels, and it was revoked last year after he posted confidential medical information about Daniels on several Internet sites and on Facebook.

In the second case, Deshawn Gray was only able to collect $2.1 million from Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph hospital. The payment was about $800,000 less than the jury awarded after agreeing that medical negligence caused him to have a leg amputated after he fractured his knee in a 2012 motorcycle accident.

Gray underwent surgery to repair his knee after the accident. He later developed acute compartment syndrome, a condition in which the muscle and tissue swell, cutting off blood supply to the muscle and causing nerves to die off.

Although Gray was unable to feel his leg or wiggle his toe and nursing staff made note of the condition, medical staff were negligent because they did not relay the information to Gray’s doctors. Had they done so, Gray’s leg might likely have been saved. A spokeswoman for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare declined to comment.

Before the trial, attorneys agreed that if Gray won his case, he would be entitled to $1.3 million in economic damages to cover past and future medical bills and lost wages.

In addition the jury awarded Gray an additional $1.5 million for noneconomic damages which included Gray’s pain and suffering and his son having lost the companionship of his father. Gray agreed to half the award amount so that it would fall in line with the state of Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on awards for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.

If you or a loved one believes they have suffered as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence, contact the law offices of Bottar Leone, PLLC today. We will take the time to carefully evaluate your claim. New York also has strict laws regarding malpractice that require experienced legal advice. Call us today for a free consultation and legal analysis.