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Nelson v. Dr. W.


Injuries claimed: Anoxic brain injury and confinement to a wheelchair.

Court: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Case name: Nelson v. Dr. W.

Case number: 04-CV-001361

Judge: Charles F. Kahn

Verdict & settlement: Jury returned defense verdict (as to Hospital and Insurance Company); Jury returned plaintiff verdict (against Dr. W., her insurer, and Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund)

Original amount sought: $2,000,000 in claimants’ request for mediation. Plaintiffs filed statutory offer of settlement for defendants Hospital and Insurance Company on June 6, 2006 in the amount of $1,640,000.

Original offer: None

Award: Zero dollars against defendants Hospital and Insurance Company; $2,109,717 for plaintiffs’ verdict against defendants Dr. W. and Wisconsin and Injured Patients and Families Compensation Act.

Breakdown of damages awarded: $994,717 for health care expenses; $1 million for past and future pain and suffering; $50,000 was awarded to Jeanne Nelson for loss of society and companionship; $65,000 in loss of society and companionship to Miles Nelson.

Date of incident: October 18, 2000

Disposition date: April 23, 2009

Original filing date: Feb. 10, 2004

Plaintiffs attorney (firm): J. Michael End, End, Hierseman & Crain, LLC, Milwaukee; James Peter End for plaintiff J. Nelson, First Albrecht & Blondis SC, Milwaukee

Defendants attorney (firm): Barrett Corneille and Colleen Meloy, Corneille Law Group, Madison, for Hospital and Insurance Company

Plaintiffs expert witnesses: Robert Eilers, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation, Hinsdale, IL; Richard Bonfiglio, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation, Murrysville, PA

Defendants expert witnesses: Ruth Kleinpell, RN, Chicago, IL

Defense counsels’ summary of the facts: In the medical negligence action, plaintiff contended that Hospital employees and a resident physician delayed in responding to the plaintiff’s respiratory problems due to a mucous plug in his tracheostomy tube. The plaintiff’s tracheostomy tube was placed after he was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered traumatic brain injury. Three weeks after the plaintiff was admitted to the Hospital, he was transferred to the rehabilitation unit of the hospital. At trial, the plaintiff contended that when he had difficulty breathing, the inner portion of his tracheostomy tube should have been removed or that the tracheostomy tube should have been replaced. Plaintiff also claimed that a code should have been called earlier. Medical experts for the plaintiff testified that as a result of the delay, the plaintiff suffered additional brain injury which allowed a bone condition known as “heterotopic ossification” to worsen, resulting in the plaintiff’s confinement to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

In final argument, plaintiff’s counsel argued that the jury should find both the Hospital and Dr. W. negligent and apportion the liability 70 percent to the Hospital and 30 percent to the doctor. Plaintiff’s counsel requested an award of $1 million in past medical expenses and additional “millions” in pain and suffering.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the Hospital staff. The jury found the resident physician causally negligent and awarded damages.

An attending physician, who had been originally named in the suit, was dismissed from the case during trial.

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