On February 18, 2014, a Michigan medical malpractice jury awarded a now 43-year-old woman $1.3 million for her injuries and damages following her elective surgery. The jury deliberated for less than six hours after a ten-day trial before awarding $500,000 for the woman’s pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, scarring, and disfigurement; $382,000 for her past loss of income; and, $430,000 for the woman’s future loss of income through 2017.
The Underlying Facts
On June 4, 2009, the woman had an elective abdominoplasty (commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck”) that included liposuction of the abdominal flap, in her surgeon’s office in Michigan. She was nearly 40-years-old at the time and was in the best physical shape of her life. Her decision to have a tummy tuck was her reward to herself for the physical condition that she had worked so hard to attain.
The woman experienced problems shortly after the surgery was completed. She had dark-colored drainage, she experienced clots, and she had painful burning sensations that she reported to her surgeon. The surgeon did not use anesthesia when he cleaned the wound, causing the woman severe pain, and he continued to prescribe pain medication and ointment for the woman. The woman repeatedly requested that her surgeon refer her to a wound specialist but the surgeon failed to do so.
By late July 2009, the surgeon determined that the wound was infected but did not refer his patient to a specialist for proper treatment. It was not until August 2009 that the woman went to an emergency room, where she was referred to a wound clinic that determined that she had a staph infection. She continued to be treated at the wound clinic until 2010. She is presently under the care of infectious disease physicians and she continues to take medication. She was left with a large scarred area that opens up on occasion.
Before her elective surgery, the woman was physically active, having jogged at least two hours every day and having maintained a regular workout schedule. She was the owner of a home health care and medical staffing business.
As a result of her complications following her surgery, she lost her business due to her failing health, she experienced frequent nightmares, and she had difficulty just doing the simple activities of daily living.
After the jury rendered its verdict in her favor, the woman stated, “I’ve just lost everything. That is all I can tell you. I lost my faith. I lost my dignity. I lost my independence … I wouldn’t necessarily call it a win, but I won. I am messed up for the rest of my life for what he did to me … I wish I would have just treated myself to a vacation and been happy with my body. I would do anything to have my body back the way it was.”
The surgeon’s lawyer alleged that there was no medical malpractice, that the verdict was excessive, and he vowed to file an appeal.
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