2022 saw record-setting medical malpractice verdicts across the country. Juries have seen the pain and suffering caused by negligent healthcare providers, and are compensating innocent victims for both their financial and non-financial harm.
This list only includes cases that went to trial and highlights some of the largest medical malpractice verdicts from 2022. The majority of medical negligence cases are settled out of court, but the terms and settlement amounts are confidential and could not be included here. However, the medical malpractice attorneys at Morris James can guide you on the relevant factors in your case that could affect your right to compensation. Contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers online or call us at 302.888.6857 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
$111 million verdict in Minnesota: Thapa v. St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates
In May 2022, shock waves were sent through healthcare and personal injury circles across the country with this massive verdict. The plaintiff, Anuj Thapa, was a 17-year-old student, recently arrived in the country from Nepal, who was injured while playing indoor soccer. He went to St. Cloud Hospital with a broken leg and underwent surgery that night. The next day, he was discharged from the hospital despite complaining of pain, numbness, burning, and muscle problems. Six days later, he returned to the hospital and was operated on by a different doctor, who diagnosed acute compartment syndrome. This is a serious and emergent medical condition that causes pressure in a group of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. When that happens, those muscles and nerves can die, and this can lead to complications such as amputation, infection, renal failure, and death. Due to the failure to recognize and treat his compartment syndrome in a timely manner, Mr. Thapa needed over a dozen surgeries, and has permanent and disabling injuries.
Of the jury’s $111 million verdict, $1 million was for past and future medical expenses, $10 million was for past pain and suffering, and $100 million was awarded for future pain and suffering. There was no claim for lost wages or lost earning capacity.
$97.4 million verdict in Iowa: Kromphardt v. Mercy Hospital
The largest medical malpractice verdict in Iowa history was handed down in this birth injury case. Approximately $42.2 million of the $97.4 million compensation was awarded for future medical or custodial care, and the remainder was awarded for loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages.
When Kathleen Kromphardt was admitted to the hospital in labor, her baby’s fetal heart pattern was concerning. This indicated that she may need an emergency cesarean section, but her doctor instead ordered medications to slow down natural labor. While her doctor attended two other births, Baby Scotty’s heart rate continued to deteriorate, yet the nurse did not call for a doctor. When the doctor returned an hour later, Baby Scotty was in terminal brachycardia (meaning his heart rate had dropped dangerously low), and nursing staff were attempting to deliver the baby vaginally. The doctor proceeded to use forceps and a vacuum extractor to forcefully deliver the baby. Scotty was left with a massive skull fracture from the attempted forceps delivery, extensive bleeding on his brain caused by the vacuum delivery, and brain damage from oxygen deprivation (also known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or H.I.E.). As a result of the delay in delivery and the injuries he sustained during delivery, Scotty, now 4 years old, has cerebral palsy, developmental delay, mixed expressive-receptive language disorder, ischemic brain injury, and H.I.E. He will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
$77 million verdict in Georgia: The Estate of Nicholas Carusillo v. Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences, Inc.
A record was also set in 2022 in the state of Georgia with a $77 million award for wrongful death. In this case, the victim, Nicholas Carusillo, was a resident at a psychiatric facility having suffered from bipolar disorder and substance addiction. Mr. Carusillo’s family alleged that a series of errors by the Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences, Inc. staff ultimately led to the victim’s death. Specifically, Mr. Carusillo’s medication was stopped while an inpatient there, which caused his condition to deteriorate; he was discharged from the facility against his will because he had a cell phone in violation of their policy; and the facility failed to warn the sober living house to which he was discharged about his mental health problems. A few days after his discharge, Mr. Carusillo suffered a psychotic episode and was fatally injured when hit by multiple cars while lying naked in a fetal position on the interstate.
This case also involved bad faith and misconduct by the defendants who created and backdated records in the days after Mr. Carusillo’s death to make them look as if they had been written when he was a patient at the facility. In view of the egregious facts, the jury awarded $10 million for Mr. Carusillo’s pain and suffering, $55 million for the value of his life, and $1 million in punitive damages.
The Carusillo family told reporters something that we hear almost every day from our clients:
The need for, and right to, answers is often the single biggest motivation for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
$75 million verdict in Georgia: Buckelew v. Womack
In another Georgia case, a 32-year-old man sued multiple healthcare providers for medical malpractice leading to catastrophic brain damage and locked-in syndrome (L.I.S.) after he suffered a stroke. L.I.S. refers to a condition that some people with brain damage can suffer where they have total paralysis but are still conscious and possess their normal cognitive function. The victim, Jonathan Buckelew, suffered a stroke during a chiropractic adjustment, and was brought to the hospital emergency room, where a series of errors and miscommunication began. The stroke was not diagnosed or treated until the next day, and the court accepted that the delay was below the standard of care and resulted in a worse outcome for Mr. Buckelew. The emergency room doctor, who did not communicate relevant information and results to other physicians and later altered medical records to suggest that he had communicated this information, was found to be 60% at fault, and the radiologist who missed the stroke when reading the imaging, was found to be 40% at fault for the victim’s harm. Mr. Buckelew was awarded $29 million for medical expenses and $46 million in non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
$68.8 million verdict in Florida: Crohan v. University Community Hospital, Inc.
In this Florida case, four physicians were found to be medically negligent and financially liable to the plaintiff, in different amounts. The plaintiff, Miranda Crohan, was admitted to the hospital after collapsing due to severe hyponatremia (low blood sodium). The critical care physicians responsible for her care in the hospital were found to have mismanaged her sodium levels, and this caused severe brain damage. Ms. Crohan now requires lifelong care.
The jury apportioned 85% of the responsibility to one physician, 23% to another, and 1% each to two remaining physicians. The award of $68.8 million was made up of $50 million for pain and suffering, $15 million for future medical expenses, $2.9 million for past expenses, and $750,000 in lost earnings capacity.
$30 million verdict in Georgia: Threat v. Gamble-Webb
This verdict in a Georgia birth injury medical malpractice suit was awarded to both the mother and baby. In this case, the mother, Ms. Threat, was in labor and given medication to increase her contractions, but her intense contractions caused severe bleeding and collapse. Ms. Threat had a rare and serious complication known as an amniotic fluid embolism. The doctor performed an emergency cesarean section and a hysterectomy, but the delay in performing the C-section, and the failure to properly monitor the baby, January, for 37 minutes during this period, resulted in oxygen deprivation. This caused extensive brain damage to Baby January. She now requires a feeding tube and has multiple neurological issues. Ms. Threat also argued that she would not have needed a hysterectomy if her care had been properly handled.
The jury awarded $29 million to Baby January and $1 million to her mother, with the obstetrician held 20% liable and the attending nurse’s employer held 80% liable.
$27 million verdict in Iowa: Dudley v. Iowa Physicians Clinic
In November 2022, a large verdict was handed down in Iowa to Joseph Dudley, a man who went to an urgent care clinic with symptoms of high fever, disorientation, and an abnormal heart rate and breathing. He was misdiagnosed with the flu by the physician assistant in charge, despite testing negative for flu, and sent home with Tamiflu and pain relievers. When Mr. Dudley went to the emergency room a few days later, he was diagnosed correctly with bacterial meningitis, which should have been diagnosed by the physician assistant earlier, and admitted to the I.C.U. Mr. Dudley was put in an induced coma, suffered multiple strokes, and was left with permanent hearing loss, nerve damage, and brain damage.
The $27 million award included $12 million for future loss of full mind and body, $10 million for future pain and suffering based on his life expectancy, $2.5 million for past loss of body and mind function, and $2.5 million for past pain and suffering.
$25.4 million verdict in Missouri: Harris v. Sandri
Another record-breaking verdict was handed down in April 2022, with the largest medical malpractice verdict ever awarded in the Kansas City area. In this case, Ms. Harris was a laboring mother who was given excessive doses of Pitocin, a medication used to accelerate labor, over a period of more than 6 hours. The excessive dosing was evident on fetal monitoring strips, but neither the resident physician nor the supervising attending obstetrician stopped or corrected the dosing in accordance with hospital policy and the standard of care. As a result, Ms. Harris’ baby suffered severe oxygen deprivation and now has cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour care. The physician was found to be negligent in her substandard care of Ms. Harris and her inadequate supervision of the resident physician.
Of the $25.4 million verdict, $18.97 million was awarded for future medical care and damages, and $5 million was awarded for past and future pain, suffering, and disfigurement.
$19.7 million verdict in Pennsylvania: Melendez v. Mo
Diana Melendez was awarded $19.7 million for a failure to diagnose a dural arteriovenous fistula (a mass on her spinal cord). She first began complaining of symptoms to her primary care doctor at Penn Medicine in 2012, but her doctor did not order tests that would have revealed the lesion. She did not receive a diagnosis until 2017 when she went to see a neurologist herself. By this time, she was suffering from leg spasms, incontinence, and trouble walking, all caused by the fistula.
In some cases, a plaintiff is held responsible for some of their harm, and it affects the amount of compensation that they are awarded. Here, the court found that Ms. Melendez was responsible for a small portion of her damage (6%) because she had lost a referral slip that then delayed her getting to see a neurologist in 2016. Nonetheless, the jury found that it was largely the medical malpractice of her healthcare providers at issue that caused her injuries and compensated her accordingly.
$18 million verdict in Pennsylvania: Downes v. Carpenter
A record was set in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with $18 million awarded to plaintiff, Kerri Downes, for failure to diagnose her breast cancer. After finding a lump in her breast, she saw a nurse practitioner twice in March 2018 but was told that it was benign and was not sent for further testing or imaging. Nine months later, she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes, requiring a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy. If she had been diagnosed when she first saw the nurse practitioner, she would likely have been treated with only a lumpectomy and would have had much better long-term survival prospects. The nurse practitioner was held to be negligent for not ordering breast imaging, leading to a delay in her treatment and a much worse outcome for Ms. Downes.
The 2022 verdicts listed above all demonstrate that juries are willing to award full and just compensation when someone suffers as a result of medical malpractice. At Morris James, our medical malpractice attorneys work hard to ensure victims of medical malpractice receive full and just compensation for their injuries.