We look at several of the biggest, multi-million-dollar medical malpractice recoveries in recent Florida history (and some of our own successes as Miami medical malpractice attorneys).
You might have heard that medical malpractice claims are some of the toughest cases to win in Florida.
If you’ve recently suffered injury or hardship because of a health care provider’s negligence, hearing that might make you feel discouraged.
However, while it is true that medical malpractice cases can be challenging, it is also true that Florida personal injury law is very protective of people who are injured as a result of medical errors.
In fact, many, many Floridians have been successful in bringing lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, physician practice groups, ambulance companies, and other medical care providers.
These cases can result in very large financial recoveries for the victims and their families. Some resolve through out-of-court settlements. Others may go to trial, where they are resolved with a jury verdict. In either event, the damages are often substantial, sometimes totaling millions of dollars — or even tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
As Miami medical malpractice attorneys, our law firm, Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, have achieved several large Florida medical malpractice settlements ourselves, including million-dollar recoveries for some of our clients.
In today’s article, we take a look at just a few of the largest Florida medical malpractice settlements and verdicts. Then we also briefly profile some of our own medical malpractice trial victories and out-of-court settlements here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.
$33.8 Million: Doctor Takes Personal Calls & Makes Medical Errors During a Complex Birth, Leaving Baby with Brain Damage
In 2013, a pregnant, full-term 19-year-old Miami woman checked into North Shore Medical Center for what should have been a low-risk delivery. But things went wrong when they didn’t have to.
To begin with, during labor, the doctor reportedly instructed nurses to resume a contraction-strengthening medication at full strength. Expert witnesses questioned that decision at trial, suggesting the medication might have been excessive and may have dangerously reduced the baby’s blood supply.
Even though there were warning signs, the doctor repeatedly left the delivery room for personal matters, the Sacramento Bee reports, at one point walking away to take a phone call from his stockbroker. He also failed to perform a C-section even though the birth was taking a long time and showing signs of serious complications.
“By the time the baby was delivered on Dec. 2, 2013, he was blue in the face and his limbs were limp,” writes the Bee. “It took a medical team to revive the infant, named Earl, Jr., and by then he had severe brain damage from lack of oxygen…”
Dr. Ata Atogho tried to blame the mother for failing to push hard enough during labor, according to reports. The nurse in charge of delivery also testified that Dr. Atogho falsified the mother’s medical record, making it look like she had refused a C-section.
The court ultimately rejected Dr. Atogho’s defense, awarding the mother $33.8 million.
Because the doctor worked for a federally funded health clinic, the government is on the hook for paying that award, not the doctor. As of the Bee’s report last year, Dr. Atogho was still practicing without reprimand — even though he had reportedly delivered two other babies with permanent brain damage and a third with a permanent disability during that same year. In all three cases, the Bee says, the mothers were Miami teenagers seeking care at Jessie Trice, known for its community of low-income and uninsured patients.
$216.7 Million: Tampa Man’s Stroke Misdiagnosed as a Sinus Infection
In August of 2000, a former Philippines basketball pro went to the ER at the Tampa University Community Hospital, complaining of nausea, dizziness, double vision, and a headache. Despite having several classic signs of a stroke and telling the hospital that he had a family history of strokes, the doctor dismissed his symptoms as simple sinusitis. The hospital sent him home with prescription painkillers.
One day later, the patient was back at the hospital, his symptoms have gotten worse overnight. Within hours, he was undergoing emergency surgery to relieve swelling in his brain. After that, he spent three months in a coma.
During the ensuing Florida medical malpractice trial, it was revealed that the doctor who performed the initial medical examination in the hospital was actually an unlicensed physician’s assistant. The suit was filed against one of the doctors, as well as two physician’s groups responsible for providing emergency room service; the hospital itself was not named in the suit.
A Florida jury awarded the Tampa man $216.7 million for the doctor’s failure to diagnose his stroke ($116.7 million in compensatory damages, plus another $100.1 million in punitive damages). The family reportedly planned to donate the punitive award to charities that help people who suffer from spinal cord and brain injuries.
$65 Million: Florida Woman Left Paraplegic After Induced Labor
Private settlements are often kept under seal, so the details are not always available to the public. Accordingly, there is not a lot of information in the public record about this story of a 37-year-old woman who received a settlement of $65,333,164 in Florida in 1997.
According to a report by Duke University Law School, the woman sought treatment for pregnancy-induced hypertension. The care provider induced labor using Pitocin via IV. When the epidural catheter was removed, the “patient had no sensation in legs but back pain and weakness.” The injury was reported as “paraplegia and cauda equine syndrome (spinal cord ends).”
The settlement of more than $65 million was reached without a lawsuit ever having been filed.
$109 Million: Woman with Ovarian Cyst Goes in for Minor Surgery; Loses Hands and Feet (But Doesn’t Get the Whole Amount)
In late 2010, a Tampa woman in her 40s was admitted to surgery for an ovarian cyst. The surgeon was to perform a routine and minimally invasive procedure, and the risk of complications was relatively low.
However, during the operation, the surgeon allegedly cut into the woman’s small intestine by accident. Rather than closing the intestinal wound, he simply completed the procedure without addressing his mistake.
Following surgery, the patient exhibited low blood pressure. Soon after, the woman’s surgical wound opened, allowing a substantial volume of bodily fluids to spill out, leading to sepsis and respiratory failure.
Several days later, she was admitted back into surgery, where doctors discovered the intestinal injury. By then, several of her internal organs and muscles (including her stomach, intestines, and much of her abdomen) were infected with flesh-eating bacteria. Meanwhile, her sinking blood pressure necessitated medication, which in turn reduced blood flow to her limbs. Gangrene set in, and doctors then had no choice but to amputate both her hands and feet.
The patient ultimately filed a Florida medical malpractice action against the University of South Florida (the surgeon’s employer), and the jury returned a verdict in excess of $109 million.
However, because the Tampa-based USF is a member of the Florida state university system, it enjoys certain sovereign immunities. In this case, that means total damages were capped at $100,000 — regardless of how much money the jury believed the victim deserves.
The stories we’ve described above should not be regarded as typical. Indeed, they are outliers. Nevertheless, they are compelling illustrations of the protections that are available to unfairly injured patients in our state.
Some of Our Largest Florida Medical Malpractice Settlements & Verdicts at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC
As Miami medical malpractice attorneys, we fight to get injured patients the financial justice they deserve. Some of our Florida medical malpractice settlements include:
- $5 million — Failure to diagnose / failure to treat swine flu and pneumothorax, resulting in cardiac arrest and brain damage
- $1.825 million — Medical malpractice/premises liability case in which a young boy who tripped and fell in an apartment complex parking lot was taken to a hospital. The hospital failed to diagnose his retinal tear, resulting in a complete retinal detachment.
- $1.250 million — Medical malpractice settlement for a young boy who suffered a stroke as a result of a bacterial infection.
- Undisclosed six-figure settlement — Medical malpractice claim in which our client’s doctor had used improper surgical technique and the wrong equipment to repair an ankle fracture
- $900,000 — Settlement reached in a challenging wrongful death case that another personal injury firm had previously turned down. We wanted to help this incredible family recover after the tragic death of a woman with a recent history of MRSA, influenza, and pneumonia.
- $700,000 — Settlement for our client who suffered a severed Ureter during the removal of a growth from his Kidney
- $580,000 — Medical malpractice settlement after the hospital staff and doctors failed to recognize that our client was suffering a stroke
- $400,000 — Medical Malpractice settlement for our client who suffered a stroke as a result of a cardiac perforation during placement of a pacemaker.
- $400,000 — Medical malpractice settlement after a cataract surgery resulted in retinal detachment and loss of vision
- $250,000 — Confidential medical malpractice settlement for our client, a young boy who had a bad result following a hypospadias repair. The case was settled for the full amount of the defendant’s insurance policy limits.
- $200,000 — Medical malpractice settlement for our client who required a finger amputation after the hospital improperly inserted an I.V.
- Confidential settlement — Pre-suit settlement for a client who was not properly monitored in a Broward County hospital
To learn more about these specific Florida medical malpractice settlements, which are only a few of the cases we have handled successfully, please visit our results page.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Today.
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we are committed to giving ill or injured patients the sensitive, competent, and zealous legal representation they deserve after a negligent medical mishap.
In any medical malpractice case, it is our goal to relieve the victim’s burden to the greatest extent possible, to give honest and realistic advice, and to fight for the largest amount of compensation at every turn. We have extensive experience in successfully challenging doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, physician’s groups, and large corporations.
Here’s our guarantee: we will not charge for our services unless and until we get you money.
Time limits apply to Florida medical negligence claims, so please don’t delay. Schedule a free consultation with the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC right away.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.