On May 23, 2014, a Maryland medical malpractice jury in Baltimore City awarded more than $5.2 million to a security guard whose knee injury was misdiagnosed by an emergency room physician and a physician’s assistant, ultimately leading to an above-the-knee amputation. While the jury was deliberating the case for two hours after an eight-day trial, the parties reached a high-low agreement, providing that the plaintiff would receive at least $750,000 but no more than $1.5 million. Therefore, the plaintiff will receive $1.5 million instead of the $5.2 million verdict.
High-low agreements may benefit plaintiffs because they are guaranteed to receive at least the minimum amount agreed upon even if the jury finds against the plaintiffs or the verdict is less than the “low,” and defendants are benefited by high-low agreements because they know that the most they will have to pay to the plaintiffs is the amount of the “high,” even if the jury’s verdict is in excess of the high, as in this Maryland medical malpractice case.
High-low agreements typically provide that the plaintiffs will receive the amount of the jury’s verdict if the verdict is between the high and the low. The jury is not advised as to the existence or the terms of the high-low agreement, and judges are often not advised as to the existence of such agreements before the jury renders its verdict.
The Alleged Underlying Facts
The security guard was injured at work at a federal building in Baltimore, Maryland on December 3, 2009, when his co-worker accidentally raised a collapsible vehicle barrier in emergency mode, which raises the barrier quickly and without warning, as the plaintiff was walking over it. The plaintiff’s left leg got caught in the barrier, causing his left knee to become dislocated and then snap back into place.
After several co-workers helped remove the man from the barrier, he was brought to a local hospital emergency room where he was treated by the defendant physician and the defendant physician’s assistant, who diagnosed the man’s injury as a knee sprain after x-rays did not show a fracture or dislocation; he was released to home two hours later.
At home, the man’s left leg swelled and he had tingling and numbness in his left leg. Two days after the initial emergency room visit, a doctor could not find a pulse in the man’s left leg. An MRI showed that all of the ligaments in the man’s knee were shredded.
Back at the hospital, a 13-hour operation by a vascular surgeon attempted to save the man’s leg. The man was later transported to a Baltimore trauma center, where his left foot was amputated in an effort to save his left leg. Unfortunately, the man subsequently had to have his left leg amputated above his knee, after which he was fitted with a prosthetic limb.
To his credit, the security guard was able to return to his job after passing all necessary physical tests.
Kevin Tolson v. St. Agnes Healthcare, Inc., et al., Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 24-C-12008071.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of medical negligence in Baltimore, in Maryland, or in another area of the United States, you should promptly consult with a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney, a Maryland medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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