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Oregon judge upholds boy’s $12 million malpractice verdict


In a case that continues to be followed by our Eugene medical malpractice blog, a judge recently upheld a jury’s $12 million verdict in a malpractice case. The multi-million verdict was entered in favor of a boy seriously injured by doctors at OHSU. The boy, now 4 years old, nearly died after undergoing an emergency liver transplant in 2009. During the surgery, OHSU surgeons mistakenly cut the wrong blood vessels.

After entry of the $12 million jury verdict, the hospital argued in should be reduced to Oregon’s $3 million liability cap. The cap was established by the Oregon Tort Claims Act and involves claims against OHSU and other public entities. The hospital’s arguments were shot down by a Multnomah County Circuit judge. In the judge’s ruling, he said it would be “constitutionally inadequate” to cap the award at an amount so far below what the jury thought was appropriate for the case.

Despite the judge’s ruling, the family braces itself for continued litigation. The case is likely to end up before the Oregon Supreme Court over the legality of the liability cap. OHSU has already paid out the $3 million to the family. However, the family still faces nearly $3 million more in bills to Stanford University’s children’s hospital for their son’s liver transplant. The boy will also need future medical care, medication and a second potential transplant.

The sad set of facts in this case show the devastating injuries that can result from medical malpractice. Hospital negligence claims often involve allegations of surgical mistakes or misdiagnosis. A malpractice lawsuit can help victims and their families recover the compensation needed to cover future medical costs and living expenses.

Source: The Oregonian, “OHSU lawsuit: Judge retains jury’s $12 million verdict, despite hospital’s push to reduce award,” Helen Jung, Nov. 22, 2013