A man whose lower left leg was amputated in the wake of an infection received a seven-figure verdict in federal court, though it was reduced by Missouri’s damage cap after trial.
“The claim was basically their misdiagnosing his deep foot infection for a superficial wound,” said G. Michael Fatall, the Kansas City attorney who represented plaintiff Mark Brown.
Brown sued Dr. Francina Hoffman and physician assistant Carl Lange, who had treated Brown with Bactrim after diagnosing him with cellulitis during a Christmas Day visit to the emergency room at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in 2016.
The plaintiff’s problems worsened and sent him back to the hospital on New Year’s Eve. Necrotizing fasciitis was confirmed, necessitating a move to a St. Louis facility for removal of his leg below the knee.
The suit alleged that the defendants failed to diagnose sepsis and prescribe the proper medication despite Brown’s history as a diabetic.
Fatall said the defense argued that the plaintiff had not presented with such a condition, was not septic and that the problem simply worsened due to a later infection by more virulent bacteria. Fatall said that the defense expert had to concede that the patient may have met criteria for early sepsis.
Jurors awarded $360,000 for future medical expenses and $1.5 million in past and future noneconomic damages. After trial, the parties agreed to an amended judgment that paid future medical damages of $16,363 this year plus an additional $150,799 to be paid over the next 21 years. The noneconomic damages were reduced to $450,098 pursuant to Missouri’s medical malpractice damage cap.
Edward Clausen and Joshua Hill of Newman, Comley & Ruth represented the defense. Their office declined to
$1.86 million verdict
Breakdown: $1 million for future noneconomic damages, $500,000 for past noneconomic damages, $360,000 for future economic damages. Reduced to $617,260 post-trial, plus $8,561.55 in costs
Venue: U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Missouri
Case Number/Date: 4:20-CV-00906/May 5, 2022
Judge: Nannette Baker
Plaintiff’s Experts: Michael Gelfand, Memphis, Tennessee (infectious disease); William Gibson, San Antonio, Texas (emergency medicine)
Defendants’ Expert: David Talan, Los Angeles (infectious disease and emergency medicine)
Last Pretrial Demand: $950,000
Last Pretrial Offer: $100,000
Insurer: Medical Liability Alliance
Caption: Mark Brown v. Francina Hoffman and Carl W. Lange IV
Plaintiff’s Attorney: G. Michael Fatall, Kansas City
Defendants’ Attorneys: Edward Clausen and Joshua Hill, Newman, Comley & Ruth, Jefferson City