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Successful jury award for quadriplegic


Baylor University Medical Center Found Guilty

DALLAS, TX – (November 6, 2003) – A Dallas County jury, in a unanimous decision, found Baylor University Medical Center, an emergency room doctor and a radiologist guilty of medical malpractice.

The jury awarded $23,429,263.00** to Sanger, Texas residents John Edward Millichamp, III, and his children for his pain, suffering, and losses, making it one of the largest such verdicts ever recorded against Baylor. In addition, the jury awarded $7,750,000.00** punitive damages against Baylor.

** A contingent (%) fee charged on the successful recovery resulted in a fee of $15,589,631.50 and $791,310.23 in litigation expenses which were reimbursed by the client out of the gross settlement amount.

The verdict assigned 65% of guilt to defendant Baylor University Medical Center; 27% of guilt to Anthony C. Toppins, M.D.; and 8% of guilt to defendant David J. Mendelson, M.D.

“This case illustrates the unfairness of putting a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering for non-economic damages. Two weeks after Proposition 12 was passed in Texas, this jury was impaneled after six weeks of evidence and found that Mr. Millichamp deserved more than $10 million in pain and suffering for not being able to use his hands and legs and never being able to go to the bathroom by himself. The people of Texas thought the $250,000 cap was for frivolous cases not cases like this where gross negligence caused a 41-year-old man to be a quadriplegic,” said Les Weisbrod, managing partner of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, who represented the Millichamp family.

“Mr. Millichamp’s tragedy typifies the major problem of our present healthcare system,” Mr. Weisbrod continued. “Baylor Medical Center’s staff wrongly told Mr. Millichamp to walk out of the emergency room even though he had a fractured neck. Mr. Millichamp’s paralysis was entirely preventable with proper testing and the negligence was inexcusable. It will take millions of dollars to provide for Mr. Millichamp’s care and to compensate him for his pain and suffering and his family for the loss of a healthy son and father.”

Following a motor vehicle accident in March 1999, Mr. Millichamp was transported to the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas with a large bruise on his forehead and complaints of tingling pins and needles in both hands as well as neck and shoulder pain. Miller Weisbrod, LLP proved during the case that Baylor had unqualified, improperly trained nurses in their Level One Trauma Center Emergency Room which was also understaffed at the time.

In addition, Baylor allowed an improperly supervised student radiology technologist to take x-rays which did not go far enough down the neck to show Mr. Millichamp’s problem. Dr. Toppins, the radiologist, reviewed the incomplete x-rays and did not request additional, more extensive tests.

The torn ligaments and two small fractures in Mr. Millichamp’s neck should have been diagnosed with proper x-rays and these injuries could have been surgically corrected, Weisbrod contends.

Despite ongoing complaints to the Baylor nursing staff, Mr. Millichamp was discharged ambulatory and his neck collar was taken off. Upon walking out of the emergency room, Mr. Millichamp complained that he could not feel his feet and legs and collapsed. His unstable spinal column had transected his spinal cord, causing quadriplegic. He has been diagnosed with a spinal injury at C-6 and C-7 and is now unable to move his arms or his legs.

“From the start, Baylor refused to accept responsibility for their lack of policies and procedures and for the improperly trained nurses working in the hospital,” Weisbrod said.

Miller Weisbrod, LLP is one of the country’s preeminent law firms devoted to litigating medical malpractice, pharmaceutical product liability and medical device cases. Managing partner Les Weisbrod has obtained more medical malpractice punitive damage awards for clients than any other attorney in the United States.