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Settlement For The Family Of Thomas Eric Duncan

DALLAS, TX (Nov 12, 2014)


The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, who recently passed away from Ebola while in Dallas, has reached a settlement with Texas Health Resources(THR), Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and the emergency physicians group involved in Mr. Duncan's treatment.

In addition, Texas Health Resources Foundation will create a charitable fund in memory of Thomas Eric Duncan. The purpose of the fund will be to provide for assistance to victims of Ebola in Africa.

josephus-weeks Mr. Josephus Weeks, nephew of the deceased, will work with the Texas Health Resources Foundation in continuing his personal efforts to fight the deadly Ebola virus by seeking contributions to this fund to assist those in Africa. Mr. Weeks would like to see a state of the art advanced treatment center built in Liberia to treat victims of Ebola in memory of Mr. Duncan.

The multi-faceted resolution agreement was negotiated and formalized for the Duncan family by their attorney, Les Weisbrod, partner at Miller Weisbrod, LLP of Dallas. The details of the agreement and an apology letter to the family are and will remain strictly confidential.

Mr. Duncan has four children: Ellen Mai Duncan, 22, who lives in Liberia; Karsiah Eric Duncan, 19, a student at San Angelo State, San Angelo, TX; Deakiger Amos Duncan,18 a high school student in North Carolina; and Erica Duncan, 12, who lives in Ghana. Mr. Duncan's mother Nowai Korkoyah resides in North Carolina and his father Jacob Duncan lives in Liberia.

"This has been a tragic loss for Thomas Eric Duncan's children, parents and entire family. Mr. Duncan was not initially correctly diagnosed with the Ebola Virus at the time he was discharged home on his first emergency room visit which creates liability," said Mr. Weisbrod. "Mr. Duncan was unaware that he had the Ebola virus which ultimately caused his death when he was inappropriately sent home from the hospital.”

The Duncan family also would like to see a book or movie done to highlight Mr. Duncan's life and tragic demise.

Mr. Weisbrod says this case should call attention to the epidemic of deaths due to preventable hospital errors which is worse than the Ebola epidemic. In 2013, a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety reported that premature deaths associated with preventable harms to patients in hospitals in the United States is estimated at more than 400,000 a year.

Mr. Weisbrod stated, "This epidemic of malpractice deaths in U.S. hospitals has killed and will kill in the future far more people than Ebola has killed in the entire world. The study in the Journal of Patient Safety says that transparent accountability for harm and intentional correction of root causes of harm are needed to stop the epidemic of patient harm in hospitals. THR and Presbyterian Dallas Hospital have stepped up to the plate in that regard."

"We applaud THR and Presbyterian Dallas for their transparent accountability and corrections in protocols as a result of Mr. Duncan's case. This case was settled because THR and Presbyterian Dallas wanted to do the right thing despite the onerous medical malpractice law in Texas which requires proof of willful and wanton conduct or gross negligence in an Emergency Room rather than the more simple ordinary negligence standard that applies in all other medical malpractice cases,” Mr. Weisbrod said.

“In addition, since 2003, Texas law limits the recovery on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or the loss of love and companionship of a family member to $250,000, no matter how many doctors are involved in a case and an additional $250,000 for any hospital. This cap on damages and the requirement for proof of gross negligence in an Emergency Room contributes to the real and continuing epidemic of hospital deaths due to preventable medical errors," Weisbrod opined.

"While I believe there was clear liability in this case, I do not believe that race or insurance status had anything to do with Mr. Duncan's treatment," Mr. Weisbrod said. “I have personally been a patient at Presbyterian Dallas and would not hesitate to go back there for treatment because preventable medical errors, unfortunately, in my experience, occur at every hospital in North Texas."

Mr. Weisbrod stated, "THR and Presbyterian Dallas deserve tremendous credit for resolving this matter quickly and not forcing this family to endure years of litigation and uncertainty. Very few hospitals and malpractice insurance companies would have even attempted an early resolution of a case like this."

Mr. Weisbrod is not charging a fee for his work on this case.

Les Weisbrod is nationally recognized as a vocal opponent of tort reform and has championed that platform as a former President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), the world's largest trial bar whose mission is to promote a fair and effective justice system.

“The real purpose of the current tort reform statutes in Texas, with these low caps, is to shield malpractice insurance companies and hospitals from having to pay just compensation to patients harmed by medical malpractice. Bottom-line, limitations on damages and other restrictions on plaintiff's traditional rights reduce accountability and allow physicians and hospitals to continue unsafe practices. And that is just not right,” said Mr. Weisbrod.


“Changes need to be made to medical malpractice laws in Texas or the epidemic of preventable deaths will continue.

I hope Mr. Duncan's case will serve as a catalyst to change the most restrictive parts of Texas malpractice statutes including the elimination of the higher standard of gross negligence rather than ordinary negligence for Emergency Room patients and the ridiculously low limits for pain and suffering,” said Mr. Weisbrod.

Miller Weisbrod, LLP is a national law firm specializing in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Partners Clay Miller and Les Weisbrod have built the firm’s reputation with successful verdicts, settlements, appeals and favorable decisions across the country. With resources and finances available to take on the powerful interests that have caused harm, the firm is committed to providing quality representation for clients who are seriously injured and families of victims who are killed as a result of the negligence or misconduct of others. Miller Weisbrod has offices in Dallas and affiliate offices in Houston and Austin. For more information call (888)987-0005 or email us.