Famous Unbelievable Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

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Medical malpractice is the act or omission on the part of a health care provider which fails to comply with the generally accepted medical standards and which causes injury or death. There are different laws in different countries to deal with the medical malpractices. Prior to the 1830s, lawsuits against medical malpractices were almost unheard of, but after that there were suddenly an unparalleled excess in the number of such cases. In these cases the patient or the legally authorized person on his behalf is considered the plaintiff, while the healthcare provider is taken as defendant. Although the defendant is usually a physician, it does not exclude other health providers including nurses, dentists and therapists.

1.  The Michael Jackson medical malpractice/wrongful death case

 Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

Conrad Murray was the personal physician of the superstar Michael Jackson. A law suit known as People of the State of California v. Conrad Robert Murray was filed against him, charging him of involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson. The trial was held in the Los Angeles County Superior Court and it started on September 27, 2011. David Walgren and Deborah Brazil, Los Angles deputy district attorneys, were the prosecutors in this case. Murray’s defense council comprised of Edward Chernoff, Matthew Alford, J. Michael Flanagan and Nareg Gourjian. The prosecutor’s opening statement included ‘Misplaced trust in the hands of Murray cost Jackson his life”. According to Murray’s defense council Jackson was over-fatigued and took eight tablets of lorazepam, branded as Ativan, and he also self-administered Propofol, also known as Diprivan, which reacted in the way that culminated in the death of Michael Jackson. After eight hours of deliberations in November 2011, the jury found Murray guilty and sentenced him to four years imprisonment.

2. Lawsuit against Dr. Scott Kessler /in Dame Julie’s case

Julie Elizabeth Andrews
Julie Elizabeth Andrews

Dame Julie Elizabeth Andrews, DBE was a famous British, actress, singer and dancer. She was the recipient of almost all the relevant prestigious awards including the Academy Award, Emmy Award, Grammy Award, People’s Choice Award Golden Globe Award, BAFTA, Theatre World Award, and Screen Actors Guild honors. In 1997, she was constrained to quit her shows on account of the development of some benign nodules in her throat. In 1999 she filed a lawsuit of medical malpractice against the doctors of Mount Sinai Hospital, including Dr. Jeffrey Libin and Dr. Scott Kessler, who operated her throat assuring her the recovery of her voice within six weeks, which never happened. The lawsuit was settled outside the court in September 2000.

3. John Ritter’s case

John Ritter
John Ritter

Jonathan Southworth Ritter, better known as John Ritter, was a renowned, multiple-award-winning American comedian, best known for his performance in Jack Tripper. He has appeared in hundreds of films. During rehearsals of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter in 2008, he collapsed and was taken to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he was subjected to aortic dissection. Following the operation, he died there the same evening. Yasbeck filed a wrongful death lawsuit against radiologist Dr. Mathew Lotysch and cardiologist Dr. Joseph Lee. In 2008, the jury at Los Angels County Superior Court found the doctors not negligent. Ritter’s family however received more than $13 million dollars in settlements.

4.  GranuFlo wrongful death lawsuit

GranuFlo and NaturaLyte
GranuFlo and NaturaLyte causes the death

Dialysis is a treatment given to patients when 85% of their kidney function fails. The treatment is performed to remove toxins from the body, which otherwise are removed by healthy kidneys. GranuFlo and NaturaLyte are the drugs used in this treatment. A plaintiff Harold Bolton Jr. filed a lawsuit of wrongful death against Fresenius Medical Care, in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. The plaintiff maintained that the drugs GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, used in this treatment, caused the death of his father. In 2010, 941 patients, who were administered these drugs, died of heart attack. FDA was involved in the case and class 1 recall was ordered.

5. Suicide Malpractice Suit

 Paxil
Paxil

Joseph Mazella was a 51 years old basket ball coach and teacher. His self-inflicted death was shocking to the community. William Beals M.D, who was the family physician of Joseph Mazella, prescribed Paxil, an anti-depressant drug for ten years, and doubled the dose of Paxil from 20 to 40 mg on telephone, without physically seeing the patient. A lawsuit was filed against William Beals and on November 21, 2012 the Syracuse, N.Y. jury found that Dr. Beals’ acts had contributed to or caused the death of Mr. Mazella. The jury awarded a $1.5 million verdict of medical malpractice to the family of Mr. Mazella who had committed suicide. The plaintiff’s attorney Ernest Del Duchetto commented after the verdict ‘It was comforting to see a jury agree with our proposition that these drugs, antidepressants are not panaceas for all sadness’.

6. Law suit against physician Lorraine C. Novich-Welter

Milwaukee County
Milwaukee County

Nelson and his wife, while riding on a motorcycle near Lake Geneva, faced a serious accident when a car crossed in front of them. Both were immediately hospitalized but Nelson had to undergo six surgeries and was in a wheelchair. While in the hospital he was immobilized and a healthcare provider was assigned permanently by his side. On the morning of Oct. 18, the sitter called for an emergency team, seeing Nelson’s quickly deteriorating condition. The team found the tracheotomy tube obstructed, and after the obstruction was removed he stabilized, but the doctors declared him in a vegetative state with zero chance for recovery. After a three week trial, the Milwaukee County jury ruled that Lorraine C. Novich-Welter, the physician, was negligent, while Froedtert Hospital or other medical personnel were not negligent. The jury awarded $2.1 million dollars to Nelson and his family.

7. Delia v. E.M.A Lawsuit

cesarean section
Cesarean surgery

E.M.A. are the initials of Emily Armstrong, born to Sandra and William E. Armstrong on February 25, 2000 at Catawba Valley Medical Center, in Hickory, North Carolina. Dr. James A. Barnes Jr. delivered the baby by cesarean section, but the operation injured the baby severely leading to cerebral palsy. She is blind, deaf and unable to walk, crawl or converse.  The lawsuit settlement in 2006 entitled the Armstrong family to receive $2.8 million dollars. Sandra Armstrong commented ‘It will help Emily in her needs’. North Carolina State officials declared a lien on one-third of the total money received from medical malpractice suit, as per the North Carolina State Law.

8. John Edwards Medical Malpractice Lawsuit against Red Cross

John Edwards
John Edwards

John Edwards was an American politician .He served North Carolina as a U.S.Senator. In 2004 he was the running mate of the presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. He won a $3.7 million verdict for his client, who suffered from permanent brain damage due to the use of an anti-alcohol drug Antabuse. In 1985 he represented and won a medical malpractice case for a child, who was born with cerebral palsy because doctors did not choose a cesarean section on time at the birth of child. As a plantiff lawyer he won more than $60 million for his clients in about twenty cases of medical malpractice.

9. Jason Daubert and Eric Schuller Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States
Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States

Jason Daubert and Eric Schuller were born with serious defects. Their parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a subsidiary of Dow Medical Company, the Merell Dow Pharmaceuticals. They claimed that the drug Benedictin caused birth defects.  The case was moved to Federal Court and then to Summary judgement. The expert opinion in this case was that there was no scientific study to prove that Benedictin was the causative factor for the birth defect. Merrell Dow and Daubert and Schuller appealed to the U.S. Court of appeals, the Ninth Circuit. It maintained that the district court had granted the summary judgment correctly.

10. Lawsuit against

An X-ray shows the shattered pieces of a screwdriver used in a botched spinal operation on Arturo Iturralde.
An X-ray shows the shattered pieces of a screwdriver used in a botched spinal operation on Arturo Iturralde.

Dr. Robert Ricketson was an orthopedic surgeon at Hilo Medical Center. He performed a spinal surgical operation on 73 year old Arturo Iturralde. During the conduct of the process he realized that the required titanium rods were not available and, due to loss of blood, he could not wait, therefore he improvised and cut a screwdriver to the required size and inserted it in the spine. After some time, the screwdriver broke inside the patient’s body. He had then to undergo several surgeries. After two years the patient died of the associated complications and his family filed a lawsuit for medical malpractice. The Hawaiian jury found Ricketson 65% liable and the Hilo Medical center 35% liable for the act. The family was awarded $5.6 million dollars of which $2.2 million were compensatory damages and $3.4 million were punitive damages.

Conclusion

Although most of the professional healthcare providers are very careful in the discharge of their professional duties, being humans they too are susceptible to errors. Statistics reveal that 195,000 people die of medical errors in U.S. annually. It is estimated that in 2008, the costs of the medical errors exceeded $320 in U.S. An average of 15,000 lawsuits are filed against health providers on account of medical malpractices, but more than 80% are rejected due to lack of sufficient evidence.

 

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