The Spence Law Firm: $10.165 Million Verdict in Hospital Amputation Case
JACKSON, Wyo., /PRNewswire/ -- A Wyoming jury awarded a $10.165 million verdict after finding Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County nurses and a doctor were negligent in their treatment of a man whose legs were emergently amputated four days after he was discharged from the hospital, The Spence Law Firm said today.
The verdict followed a two-week trial during which lawyers for Darrell Menapace argued that nurses at the hospital were negligent in their care and treatment of Mr. Menapace after he was admitted to the hospital with leg pain and difficulty walking. Four days after his discharge from the hospital, Mr. Menapace's legs were amputated in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In a verdict reached late Friday, jurors found Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County 40 percent responsible. The jury assigned 50 percent of the fault to a treating doctor, who, court documents show, had reached a settlement with Mr. Menapace before trial.
Emily Rankin and Bryan Ulmer of The Spence Law Firm, argued that the hospital's nurses failed to meet their obligations to Mr. Menapace who was diagnosed with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease when admitted to the hospital. During trial the nurses argued they used a face-to-face hand off in which important information about the patient is exchanged as nurses changed shifts. But the evidence showed the nurses had not actually read the doctor's admitting diagnoses and assessments, each other's assessments or talked to the doctor about any circulation problems. Important information – including test results showing blockages in the arteries bringing blood to Mr. Menapace's lower legs – was missed. The nurses' care focused on diabetes while the circulation problem, which the doctor described as Mr. Menapace's most serious problem, was unknown to the nurses.
Ms. Rankin and Mr. Ulmer argued that Mr. Menapace needed emergent transfer to a vascular surgeon to restore blood flow to his legs and argued that the doctor, Lin Miao, was negligent in believing he had time to treat Mr. Menapace's other health concerns before addressing the vascular emergency. They claimed that the nurses failed to share information from their daily assessments which would have prompted the doctor to re-evaluate his plan and that if they had been aware of his condition that they would have intervened on his behalf or provided information to Mr. Menapace that would have allowed him to take action on his own.
Bryan Ulmer said, "This is an important verdict. Nurses are an indispensible part of the team that delivers healthcare to patients throughout the state and across this country. It is our hope that this verdict will encourage and empower nurses everywhere to use all of the tools at their disposal to understand the needs of their patients and advocate on their behalf."
Emily Rankin said, "The people of Sweetwater County should be proud. This jury sat attentively through two weeks of complicated medical testimony. In the end, the jury saw that Mr. Menapace deserved help and they had the courage and conviction to provide that help. In doing so, this jury helped every other person who will be admitted to this hospital in the future."
The case is Darrell Menapace v. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, et. al., Civil No. CV-15-310-L in the Third Judicial District Court in and for Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
SOURCE The Spence Law Firm, LLC