A Philadelphia jury recently awarded $44.1 million to a women who suffered a brain hemorrhage while being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Formerly a project manager at a financial services company, the woman was left paralyzed on her left side and right leg. She is now bedridden and unable to take care of herself, needing help with the simplest of tasks such as walking, eating, and using the bathroom.
According to the lawsuit, the woman was admitted to the hospital in September 2011 to remove a mass in her head known as meningioma. She was 57 at the time. While in ICU following surgery, she was given the anti-coagulation drug, heparin, to help with post-surgical conditions. The lawsuit alleges that testing was done for six days to see how the drug was affecting the woman, and those test results showed her coagulation was moving from the low end of the normal spectrum to the high end. The suit alleged that the results should have told medical personnel that she was at “high risk for brain hemorrhage,” but no additional testing was conducted. Several days later she was found comatose and suffered a massive bleed in her head. The defendants contended that the dosing of heparin and blood monitoring were proper, and that the hemorrhage was the result of complications due to the woman’s initial brain surgery. The jury found the hospital 65 percent liable and the attending doctor 35 percent liable for failing to recognize the woman’s adverse reaction to heparin.
This case is a prime example of a “frivolous defense”, the denial of a serious and legitimate claim that leads to unnecessary litigation. The plaintiff sought $31 million before trial, but the hospital refused, offering to pay only $15 million. Rather than accepting responsibility for their wrongful conduct and fairly compensating this woman, the defendants denied timely justice by forcing her attorney to prove the woman’s case by a preponderance of the evidence. She was dragged through a legal quagmire for five years for no reason other than because the defendants wanted to cause enough financial desperation to get her to settle too early for too little compensation. Well, the defendant gambled and lost.
Sadly, our present system does not seriously punish or sanction the use of such frivolous defenses, so these tactics needlessly prolong cases, clog court dockets and cost taxpayers money. What has been cast as greedy lawyers has become greedy corporations and insurance companies who are manipulating the process to avoid paying claims. This must stop!
If you want to unclog a clogged civil justice system, call on your state or federal representatives to put an end to frivolous defenses. It is time to start protecting seriously injured, innocent victims of wrongful conduct.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.
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