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case-settles

Dallas County Jury Finds Medical Center of McKinney guilty

DALLAS, TX – (May 10, 2006) – A Dallas County jury, in an 11-1 decision, found Medical Center of McKinney (formerly known as North Central Medical Center), an HCA hospital guilty of medical malpractice.


The jury awarded $9,944,406.00** to McKinney, Texas residents Tommy and Sandra Ivey the verdict plus prejudgment interest for his pain, suffering, earning losses and medical care, making it one of the largest such verdicts against a hospital in Collin County, Texas.


** A contingent (%) fee charged on the successful recovery resulted in a fee of $4,972,203.00 and $572,203.00 in litigation expenses which were reimbursed by the client out of the gross settlement amount.


The original petition also sued Mark Shea Henderson, M.D. but the jury found Dr. Henderson neither liable nor negligent and found the nurses at the hospital 100% at fault. “This case illustrates the unfairness of putting a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering for non-economic damages. Of the $9,944,406.00** total verdict, the jury awarded Mr. and Mrs. Ivey nearly half in pain and suffering for enduring eleven surgeries, spending a year being tube fed, having to have his esophagus taken out and replaced with part of his colon and impacting the couple's physical relationship. His entire life has been destroyed. The people of Texas thought the $250,000 cap was for frivolous cases not cases like this where clear negligence caused a 53-year-old man to be sentenced to a life of misery like this,” said Les Weisbrod, managing partner of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, who tried the case on behalf of the Ivey family along with David Norton, a partner in the firm.


Under the cap passed in Texas, the award would have been reduced. “Mr. Ivey's tragedy typifies the major problem of our present healthcare system. His case represents the uncaring attitude of major for profit hospital chains like HCA where money comes first and patients' safety comes last,” Mr. Weisbrod continued. “The jury awarded millions to provide for Mr. Ivey's care and lost earning capacity as a bank executive because the hospital clearly cut corners and terribly injured him."


In January of 2002, Mr. Ivey had his esophagus perforated by a nasogastric tube which was inappropriately advanced by a nurse during his recovery following surgery for a benign stomach tumor and bleeding ulcer. His surgeon, Dr. Henderson said the surgery was "picture perfect" and Mr. Ivey was expected to return to work and full activity in two to three weeks. Mr. Ivey cannot work at all nor enjoy routine daily life.


The hospital defended the case by claiming there was no eyewitness to the action and the plaintiff couldn't identify the nurse. Dr. Henderson had asked a nurse to fill out an incident report at the time to document which nurse had improperly advanced the tube which resulted in the perforated esophagus but the report was never filled out. It also came out during the trial that the hospital had threatened to sue the Ivey's family practice doctor, Christopher Lawrence, M.D., for testifying in a deposition that a nurse had caused the perforation. Mr. Ivey was a former vice president of South Trust Bank who supervised investment and trust activity in the state of Texas. He testified for only one hour and was unable to attend the remainder of the trial due to his condition. “From the start, HCA refused to accept responsibility for the actions of their nurses,” Weisbrod said.