On March 27, 2013, after eight days of trial, a Connecticut federal jury returned a verdict in the amount of $41,750,000 in favor of a now 20-year-old New York woman who contracted a very serious disease as a result of a tick bite that she experienced during her high school trip to China that has left her unable to speak (she fully understands speech but cannot talk as a result of encephalitis). The woman now suffers from cognitive deficits and her motor skills have been effected as a result of her illness; she will require extensive medical treatment and related care for the rest of her life.
The Connecticut jury awarded $350,000 for her past medical care (she had over 500 medical treatments by the time of trial), $9,800,000 for her future loss of earnings and anticipated future medical care costs, $31,500,000 for her past and future loss of enjoyment of life (including her mental and emotional suffering), and $100,000 for the cost of her medical evacuation from China. The verdict, which is one of the largest personal injury verdicts in Connecticut, is against the woman’s former high school in Connecticut for its alleged failure to warn the woman and her parents that she would be traveling in forested terrain during a trip to China that would expose her to insect bites, including ticks, and its alleged failure to use appropriate precautions to avoid students acquiring insect-borne illnesses while traveling in China.
The Underlying Facts
The woman was a student in high school in Connecticut when she went on a school trip to China that was advertised as including visits to three large urban areas. The trip description failed to mention that the China trip included a visit to a heavily forested and mountainous area in China that was replete with disease-carrying insects, such as ticks that can cause Lyme disease and encephalitis.
The lawsuit contended that the woman would have taken safety precautions such as using inspect repellents and wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants had she been properly provided with adequate information regarding the locations of the planned China trip. As it happened, the woman and other students on the trip contracted insect-borne illnesses, though the woman’s illness was by far the most serious and permanent.
During the trial, the plaintiff’s attorney told the jury that the high school had provided a link to the CDC’s website regarding travel precautions and warnings but the link provided by the school was incorrect because the link was to the CDC’s information regarding travel in South American countries. Nonetheless, the plaintiff’s attorney told the jury that even if the correct CDC link regarding travel to China had been provided, it would not have been useful for the woman because the high school’s China trip was billed as a trip to urban areas only.
Serious illnesses caused by tick bites in the United States and abroad are a growing concern. Often the extent and effect of a tick-borne illness are exacerbated by the late- or misdiagnosis of the cause of the symptoms, leading to longer-lasting and more serious complications from the disease, especially Lyme disease in the United States.
If your Lyme disease was misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late for effective medical treatment to be timely provided, resulting in long-lasting and serious complications from Lyme disease, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may agree to investigate your possible Lyme disease claim for you and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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