WhiteCoat

You’ve Heard of the Six Million Dollar Man?

Meet the SIXTY million dollar crotch.

OK, make that $40 million for the plaintiff and $20 million for the attorney.

Sorry, but even if the doctor royally screwed up, no one’s labium is worth that much. Just as an aside, don’t click the “labium” link at work or around children. It’s a Wikipedia entry, but there are pictures there that might be difficult to explain to your boss or to your child.

But it’s good to have juries deciding cases like this, right?

36 Responses to “You’ve Heard of the Six Million Dollar Man?”

  1. C. says:

    Are there pics of the “damage?”

  2. Dan says:

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/147851.php

    Decline In Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Improving Access To Care

  3. sleepyjosh says:

    There are a few personal injury law firms here in NYC that like to run ads on the subway–advertising how large the judgements have been for their clients.

    I’m crossing my fingers that the plantiff’s firm doesn’t decide to brag about this latest verdict…
    (Though there’s a part of me wondering how this could be advertized tastefully…)

    • paul says:

      i’ve seen those ads. the ones that say “it’s not the lottery, IT’S THE LAW!!” – the message is very clear. it’s the lottery.

      now let’s all sit back and wait for the lawyer troll to explain to us why this verdict is good for everyone.

  4. anonymous says:

    She’s a prostitute and has lost her future earnings.

  5. Matt says:

    You guys questioning this verdict must be virgins.

    “But it’s good to have juries deciding cases like this, right?”

    Yeah, it is. That’s why it’s enshrined in the Counstitution. Beats lobbyists deciding the outcome. A few outlier results doesn’t mean much. Any more than a few surgeons operating drunk or high means all physicians are drug abusers.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39677-2005Apr9.html

    • Fyrdoc says:

      Matt,

      I don’t know where you went to law school, but might I suggest you try and get your money back. You keep spouting off regarding the seventh amendment in these medical malpractices cases. But these are all in state court. The Seventh Amendment governs only courts which sit under the authority of the United States, and does not apply generally to state courts. Medical Malpractice is not a tort enforcing a federally created right, so any and all states are free to remove juries as a component of these courts.

      See Minneapolis & St. Louis R.R. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211 (1916) . See also Melancon v. McKeithen, 345 F. Supp. 105 (E.D.La.) (three–judge court), aff’d. per curiam, 409 U.S. 943 (1972) ; and see Alexander v. Virginia, 413 U.S. 836 (1973).

      Additionally, a claim could be made that the concept of med mal was not included in common law at the time of the drafting of the constitution, thus the seventh doesn’t apply (but that is a separate argument).

  6. Pattie, RN says:

    I’ve know women who THINK that their hoo-haas are worth millions, but now this woman has PROOF!!!

    And, of course, under Obamacare EVERY doc in the country can get this sort of judgement against them for patients they have treated for FRRE!!

    • Matt says:

      Actually, Obamacare will probably involve a workers’ comp style no fault system. Fault won’t matter as much except for economic damages since every claim is being paid by the same person. Not the at-fault party, but the taxpayer.

      • dirk says:

        You keep saying this, and you are saying this because?????? Haven’t heard this anywhere. Obama certainly said nothing of the sort at the AMA. Where is your source, or is only something you know?

  7. Doc99 says:

    Ed Morrissey has a modest proposal.

    “I propose that the government impose a single-payer system on the legal profession.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/16/a-modest-proposal-2009-edition/

  8. Finn Haddie says:

    1. Thigh lift? WTF would anyone want a thigh lift?

    2. This judgement won’t stand; the defendant will appeal & the amount will be substantially reduced.

  9. Katherine says:

    It does seem like a lot, but I’d be pissed if my genitalia were damaged irrepairably and I hadn’t known that was one of the risks. I’d like to know if it has significantly impaired her ability to have normal sex, but I guess we’ll never know (whether or not it has, she’ll say it has).

    What sort of compensation would all of you want if you couldn’t have sex again?

  10. Max Kennerly says:

    New York caps attorney’s fees in medical malpractice cases as follows:

    30% of the first $250,000 of the sum recovered;
    25% of the next $250,000 of the sum recovered;
    20% of the next $500,000 of the sum recovered;
    15% of the next $250,000 of the sum recovered;
    10% of any amount over 1,250,000 of the sum recovered.

    (see http://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/2006/11/how-much-are-legal-fees-in-personal.html )

    Thus, the attorney’s fee is around $6 million.

    But the whole thing is likely going to be reduced on appeal anyway, possibly re-tried. Or possibly settled for policy amounts. That’s common, too: multi-million-dollar verdict, settlement for policy limits around $1 – $1.5m.

    I’d bet money the doctor was caught lying on the stand. That’s what usually underlies large verdicts.

    • Matt says:

      What’s NY cap the defense fees at?

      • Max Kennerly says:

        Cap defense fees!? That’s crazy talk!

        See, plaintiff’s attorney’s fees create an incentive for plaintiffs to suffer serious injuries, and so must be capped to discourage plaintiffs from being seriously injured by others. For example, plaintiffs in New York should stay awake during major surgery so that they can closely monitor what their surgeons are doing.

        Defendant’s attorney’s fees merely encourage relentless churning of files and the withholding of payment/settlement until the very last second while the injured plaintiff toils, often unable to work or even care for himself. They are thus unlimited.

        I hope that clears everything up.

  11. Fyrdoc says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the “mala praxis” link. But come on, the Virginia cases is on point (actually percisely on point since you want to bring in a discussion of the 14th). It is clear that the in that case that the seventh amendment does not apply to the states, which implies that a federal claim under the 14th is not available.

    And yes, I’ve read it (short Sup Crt document, the “background on the case is much juicier) but the point is “Trial by jury is not constitutionally required in this civil action pursuant to Va.Code Ann. § 18.1-236.3.” This case (as you well know, but hey, being the lawyer you are you have to argue) is frequently cited when questions of the 7th amendment arise.

    Face it, the seventh amendment can be “worked around” by state legislatures. See: Boyd v. Bulala, 877 F.2d 1191 (4th Cir. 1989).
    The Fourth Circuit stated “it is not the role of the jury to determine the legal consequences of its factual findings. That is a matter for the legislature . . ..” Moreover, the court stated that “[i]f a legislature may completely abolish a cause of action without violating the right of trial by jury, we think it permissibly may limit damages recoverable for a cause of action as well.” In the case, the court held that a Virginia cap on medical malpractice damages was constitutional under the Seventh Amendment.

    There, if I post more of the case, will that satisfy you?

    • Matt says:

      Fry, I never said caps were not constitutional. I said removing the jury trial was unconstitutional. Although the Boyd case you cite illustrates why caps are so unfair and harm those injured the worst regardless of the fault of the provider. Which just confirms that caps have nothing to do with eliminating frivolous lawsuits and are designed to simply protect insurers from large verdicts.

      As to the Louisiana board, the review board’s decision is not binding. You can file regardless of their finding, so you’re not denied a jury. The 7th does apply to the states, as this quote from the case you cite illustrates:

      “The opinion of the malpractice review panel was not conclusive; the jury was free to disregard it when weighing the totality of the evidence. The statutes clearly prescribe that the panel’s report constitutes no more than expert opinion evidence,3 the use of which is not incompatible with the seventh amendment. Because suit may be filed without regard to the conclusion of the panel, and in light of the statutory declaration that the fact finder is not bound by the panel’s opinion, the seventh amendment redoubt is not breached.4 ”

      My state would likely have held it unconstitutional though. But each state is different. Personally, it seems to me like a nice way to get your cases reviewed at the taxpayer’s expense rather than your own. Again, that’s more useful for insurers than patients. If I were a Louisiana resident I’d wonder why I was paying for it, though.

      I don’t “hate” anything. My odds of getting injured by malpractice are low, and I know how to deal with insurers if I do. It’s not me that these things harm. It’s the people in society without means, who don’t know a good attorneys, and can be overwhelmed when dealing with an injury, a lost job, and a recalcitrant insurance company. I’ve not figured out why it brings you such joy, though. Do you work for an insurer? Or do you not believe you’ll ever be harmed by another in any way? Or do you believe if you are that the insurer will simply roll over and write you a check?

      I guess I’m not seeing what you get out of the weaker members of our society being unable to recover for negligence like that cited in the Boyd case. The mother there didn’t even get the cost for caring the child. The capped amount didn’t even cover half of the damages the mother was going to incur caring for the child. Who do you think is going to pay for that? Virginia and federal taxpayers. How is that a just or even desirable result?

  12. Fyrdoc says:

    Matt,

    Here is a link for you: http://law.suite101.com/article.cfm/restoring_trust_to_the_medical_justice_system

    BTW – even the AAJ agrees that state level “health courts” are constitutional. It is the creation of a federal court that MAY raise constitutional challenges. However, WC’s case, and the “labial” one above, were both in state courts, where the jury system COULD be scrapped, were it not for the lobbyists of the AAJ.

    And before you even try to argue that I “just need to read the constitution, perhaps you should read the case law. See: 660 F.2d 146 “the entitlement of a malpractice claimant to sue for damages, allegedly attributable to medical professionals, does not involve the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right. See 359 So.2d at 1268; 472 F.Supp. at 473″ BTW – that case held that the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Review panel is legal. Which you must just HATE!

  13. I would like to have all victims of lawsuit abuse join in a boycott of all lawyers. A database of the cult criminal is easily compiled. No product or service provider should serve any. This is the internal enemy who must be stopped.

  14. Matt: Tell us the name of your state.

  15. EMres says:

    How old was this woman? Do her labia really have a useful life span anyways? Is someone going to actually use or look at those parts during the remainder of her life? Otherwise she won money for something cosmetic she will never see, and will never be used (so nothing lost really). I imagine that if she is getting a medial thigh lift (usually a gateway procedure for whole body lift), those parts aren’t seeing much work these days.

    On the other hand, if she was 20-something… the initial argument falls flat, but the latter one still holds true.

  16. Basiorana says:

    Oh, man, from the sound of it he stretched the skin way too tight on the thigh and stretched out the labia weird…. that would HURT, a LOT, every time you sat down or moved about. And there’s no skin to replace it, so pain in your crotch for the rest of your life, and the inability to have sexual intercourse (which is a problem if you’re married no matter how old you are).

    I hate frivolous med-mal suits. But if he genuinely didn’t explain the risks, then in this case it makes sense. She has real, documented damage and it’s clearly caused by a poorly performed procedure that is not up to the standard of care.

    It’s not that the physical appearance of the vulva is worth millions, it’s that she sounds like she’s in pain and has lost the use of that bodily function for sexual purposes (at least– depending on the deformity, it might interfere with her ability to comfortably pee too) and was never actually notified of the risks. That’s why we HAVE informed consent, so patients have no one to blame but themselves if something expected goes wrong. It’s the doctor’s own damn fault for not obtaining informed consent before an elective procedure.

  17. Matt says:

    “You keep saying this, and you are saying this because?”

    Because every statement from Obama makes it clear that he believes government is the only way to achieve his goals. Take this, from one of his speeches:

    “Making sure every American has access to high quality health care is one of the most important challenges of our time.”

    ” a plan that not only guarantees coverage for every American, but also brings down the cost of health care and reduces every family’s premiums by as much as $2500.”

    We are dealing with someone who has never worked in the private sector, and has no experience outside of govt. He knows no other way to achieve these goals. You can’t guarantee things like that and still have the private sector involved.

    • dirk says:

      Fine. And where is the part about a workers comp type system??? It is not there, you have never heard it, you are just making up that conclusion.

      He is a trial lawyer puppet and wants to bring down costs on the backs of providers (and hard working tax payers) with providers still taking all the risks.

  18. ERP says:

    Again and nauseating case of where clueless lay juries make judgements about things they have zero knowlege of. Matt, we need to CHANGE the constitution if that is your arguement for using lay juries for this sort of thing – if I recall the constitution also counted blacks (slaves) as some percent of a “real” human for census purposes. It was changed as we realised our dated document needs to updated as the world changes. Time to set up medical courts!
    Also, BTW, the Bronx is one of the country’s most plaintif-favouring/doctor distrusting regions and plaintif lawyers LOVE trying cases there. “Doctore No good! Senior Abogado muy bien!!!!”

    • Matt says:

      Also, the health insurance companies have decided that they don’t want “clueless” juries deciding all those class actions that physicians have filed against them for failing to reimburse. The only “fair” way is to have the jury made up of insurance adjusters.

      I take it you’re ready to amend the Constitution to achieve this? After all, wouldn’t want a “clueless” jury deciding you were owed money, would we?

  19. Matt says:

    You’re right. We should make policy decisions based on one jury verdict. Or even 100. Out of the millions of cases heard by jurors. Clearly an overhaul is needed.

    But wait, how do you know the jury was “clueless”? Did you read the record and determine that the care was not negligent? Or are you just channeling the case a la Bill Frist?

    Since you know how bad the Bronx is, perhaps you can point us to the ratio of plaintiff v. defense verdicts in malpractice cases there.

  20. We will now have the Bronx attitude sitting on the Supreme Court. That will be a national tragedy and catastrophe.

  21. ERP says:

    Matt, I feel that cases of medical malpractise SPECIFICALLY should have government employed experts (not all of which would be MD’s by the way) who would do a 2-3 year term during which time then cannot accept payment for any other medical services (ie can’t be on a lawyer’s or pharma company’s pay roll for any reason) during their tenure. They would have to be paid well to do this obviously since this would impede other sources of income. They would decide cases with a Judge presiding obviously. There is simply no way an average lay jury has enough knowledge and education to decide the outcome of a malpractise case, period (unless MD’s were allowed on them! Just try and get an MD past the plaintiff’s attorney!). I have testified several times as a material witness (and as an UNPAID “expert”)and I can say the jury did not even understand what the word “trauma” meant. Too much is at stake and there are so many of these cases, it would be cost effective and more efficient to take these cases out of lay juries’ hands. I am also willing to believe that in other cases where high levels of technical knowledge applies (perhaps even with insurance firms), lay juries just don’t get it enough to make fair decisions. They should stick with criminal court.

    Although I do not know the exact stats, I do have close personal knowledge of the Bronx and many medical malpractise cases there so I will leave it at that. I also know that the unabashed scumbag (and rich) law firm Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald (complete with its nauseating “we fight for injured kids” and the fighting Irish logo) finds the Bronx it’s favourite playground. There is a reason the malpractise insurance there for OB’s is through the roof.

    • Matt says:

      ERP so you feel your particular industry should judge itself but no other should? Because of course jurors are stupid and you aren’t. Like I said that’s great. Every industry deserves that same protection.

      And I didn’t figure you had any hard statistics. I think you’re right. We should amend the Constitution because of some stories you heard.

  22. ERP says:

    Oh, also, one other thing. Lawyers have to no longer be allowed to work on contingency. Plaintiff’s should be responsive for their pay (or a portion of their pay) no matter the outcome. If they lose, the plaintiff should have to pay the court’s costs (or some percent of it based on their income and net worth). It goes without saying the lawyer should not receive a portion of the plaintiff’s awards. They should be paid an hourly wage like most everyone else. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think something like this already happens in parts of Europe.

    • Matt says:

      Good idea. Let’s make people who are already poor, and now can’t work because they’re injured, pay out of pocket the tens of thousands it takes to pursue a med mal claim. We don’t want them to be able to contract freely with their attorney like the insurers can. That’s why we only cap the fees of the plaintiff not the defense. Given how much physicians hate the government dictating their payment terns why are they so eager to do it to others?

      Because it’s all about helping patients, isn’t it?

  23. [...] Whitecoat)Bronx Jury Awards 60 Million Dollars to Woman in Medical Malpractice Case Alison Hugh went to Dr. [...]

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