Statement of Case: In May of 2002, the plaintiff was a 4-year-old boy who had suffered from congenital scoliosis since birth. He had no physical limitations as a result of the scoliosis. He was evaluated at an orthopedic clinic where the Defendant physician decided during the very first visit that the child needed surgery to straighten his spine although numerous CTs, MRIs and plain x-ray films showed no progression of his scoliosis. The physician discussed this surgery with the parents on several occasions and documented the surgery that he intended to perform in his office notes.
However, less than a week prior to surgery, the physician decided to perform a different procedure. This procedure would include the use of pedicle screws. The consent form signed by the child’s mother never mentioned that any hardware would be inserted into the child’s spine and the mother testified that she was never told hardware would be used.
The surgery was performed and following the surgery a wake-up test was performed. The child was unable to move his lower extremities. He was again taken back to surgery where the hardware was removed.
Unfortunately, he did not recover any function in his lower extremities. Plaintiffs’ experts testified that the technique used during the surgery was negligent and below the standard of care and that the pedicles were burst on both sides causing bone fragments to enter the spinal cord. Additionally, all experts for the plaintiff testified that the surgery was not even necessary and that the scoliosis had not progressed since birth and was unlikely to progress in the future.
Today the child has to be catheterized every 2-3 hours because he has no control of his bladder or bowel. He is confined to a wheel chair and has limited use of his upper extremities.
Principal Injuries: Paraplegia
Special Damages: Past medical expenses: $185,015
Tried or Settled: Settled (Mediator: Wayne Huckel of Charlotte)
County Where Tried or Settled: Confidential
Case Name and Number: Confidential
Date of Conclusion: June 1, 2004
Name of Judge: N/A
Attorneys for Plaintiffs: Troy J. Stafford of DeVore, Acton & Stafford, Charlotte
Amount: $6,500,000 (There was $6 million of insurance coverage available. $500,000 of the settlement was paid by a non-party health care provider)
Insurance Carrier: Confidential
Expert Witnesses and Areas of Expertise: All experts were pediatric spine surgeons and rehabilitation experts in North Carolina with the exception of one national expert; Laura Weiss Graves (life care plan); Dr.Young Davis (economist)
Submitted by: Della T. Stafford
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