Jackie Carmichael and David Cutt of Eisenberg, Gilchrist & Cutt in Salt Lake City got an enormous verdict last Friday in Las Vegas in a brain injury medical malpractice action.
The case concerned a baby, MayRose Hurst, born prematurely at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas with a rare condition known as “Diamond-Blackfan anemia.”
The chief remaining defendant, Dr. Ali Piroozi (a neonatologist) was alleged to have failed to diagnose the anemia or make clear the need for further hematology workups after discharge.
As a result, the anemia went undiscovered for some three months until the baby developed anemic shock and suffered a severe brain injury that left her mostly blind and unable to walk and speak. A pediatrician, Dr. Ralph Conti, was also a defendant, as he saw MayRose six times after her discharge but never made the correct diagnosis. Plaintiffs settled with Dr. Conti for 2M, leaving only Dr. Piroozi in the case for trial. Here are the agreed-upon stipulated facts given to the jury at the start of the trial.
The jury reached a unanimous verdict of 40% fault on Dr. Piroozi and 60% on Dr. Conti. (0% was assessed on another neonatologist, Dr. Blahnik. He was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs just prior to trial for tactical reasons.)
In the special verdict the jury assessed these damages:
Past Medical Expenses: $1,771,332.89
Future Medical Expenses: $9,147,274.11
Pain and Suffering: $3,600,000.00
The “pain and suffering” component will be reduced to $350,000 under the Nevada medical malpractice cap, NRS 41A.035, leaving a net award of $11,268,607. Of this, Dr. Piroozi’s share is $4,507,442.80, well in excess of his policy limits with The Doctors Company.
The final award will be increased by over 1M for prejudgment interest, costs and some attorneys fees. (An “offer of judgment” was filed by plaintiff for $850,000 shortly before trial. Under Nevada law, if the offer of judgment is rejected, and the verdict exceeds the amount of the offer, a plaintiff gets all attorneys fees incurred from the date of the offer through the end of trial.)
Dr. Piroozi was defended by John Cotton, a very well-regarded Nevada defense attorney. The trial judge was Jerry A. Wiese, II. Hurt v. Piroozi, Case No. A-10-616728, Dept. 30 (District Court for Clark County, NV).
Interestingly, there was no settlement offer made at any time by Dr. Piroozi’s carrier.
Here’s a piece from the Las Vegas Review Journal on the verdict: “Clark County jury returns $14.5M verdict in medical malpractice case.”