$5.5M Verdict: Fitzsimmons Law Firm

$5,500,000.00 Verdict

Man Improperly Intubated by CRNA and Left to Suffocate to Death

Congratulations to attorneys Brent Wear and Bob Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Law Firm in Wheeling, WV for the $5,500,000 jury verdict they obtained on behalf of their client, a 78-year-old male. The original claim was generated from the reckless medical treatment rendered to the Plaintiff, consequentially resulting in his premature and wrongful death.

The Plaintiff was initially admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. During the course of his stay at the hospital, he was improperly intubated. The Endotracheal tube was placed into his esophagus, depriving him of oxygen. The Defendant hospital violated well-known standards of care by failing to quickly remove the patient’s endotracheal (breathing) tube when the CO2 monitor attached to the endotracheal tube did not change color from purple to yellow. During the trial, there was additional testimony that the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) who had improperly intubated the Plaintiff left the room after he was told that the breathing tube was not properly placed, thus letting him suffocate to death.

Fitzsimmons Law Firm attorneys Brent Wear and Bob Fitzsimmons argued that there was evidence, uncovered at the trial, that the medical center fraudulently changed the Plaintiff’s medical records in order to hide how long he had been with the misplaced breathing tube. The medical center also failed to fill out a mandatory incident report after the incident occurred.

The defense argued that their negligence was not a causative factor (asserting that the Plaintiff had a limited life expectancy and would not have survived the hospitalization), nor was said negligence severe enough to merit punitive damages. The final offer before trial was $500k. Compensation for economic damages was not pursued. The maximum compensatory damage cap was ~$680k. After closing arguments, the Defense offered $1 million ($320k above the current med mal cap on compensatory damages), which was rejected.

The jury found that the Defendant’s conduct exhibited a conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of the Plaintiff and awarded a $5.5 Million verdict. The Brooke County, West Virginia jury assessed $1.5 Million in compensatory damages for the conscious pain and suffering endured by the Plaintiff’s decedent prior to his death; $2 Million for the family’s sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of the society, companionship, guidance, advice, and services of the decedent; and $2 Million in punitive damages, which is not subject to the current med mal cap on compensatory damages.

The Fitzsimmons Law Firm partnered with MediVisuals to develop multiple illustrations of the Plaintiff’s improper intubation. See selected exhibits below.