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Man reaches record settlement after suffering renal failure

A 42-year-old combat veteran reached a $10.5 million settlement with the federal government after he alleged that improper treatment of his kidney disease worsened the ailment to the point of total renal failure.

The agreement, reached through mediator Jay Dougherty in Kansas City, is the highest Fair Trade Claims Act settlement recorded in Missouri and the seventh-highest pretrial FTCA settlement, according to plaintiff’s attorney Laurie Higginbotham of Austin, Texas.

According to Higginbotham, officials at Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia — where her client Matthew Rossignol received annual physicals from 2015 to 2018 — and the General Leonard Wood Hospital at Ft. Leonard Wood “dramatically worsened” her client’s kidney disease by giving him a daily prescription for the anti-inflammatory Naproxen for three years.

Higginbotham said that Rossignol’s medical records contained numerous warnings to not prescribe non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, to avoid kidney damage – dating back to 2012, when elevated blood levels for which he was never informed were first detected. Ensuing test results that also would have alerted Rossignol to his condition were also missed, she said.

Higginbotham said any kidney disease that Rossignol had was stable and treatable at that time, and the failure to inform him of his abnormal results or to offer a nephrology consultation was a breach of the standard of care.

“Most likely he would not have required dialysis for at least another 20 to 30 years in the condition that he was in at the time of this requested consult in August 2013, had he remained stable,” she added. “But Mr. Rossignol was not seen by nephrology in 2013, or ever again, until he was in complete renal failure in 2019.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City declined comment.

Rossignol was admitted to the Ft. Leonard Wood emergency room in January 2019 and diagnosed with gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia and acute renal failure. He underwent dialysis treatments for nearly two years, followed by a kidney transplant in September 2021. He is expected to require multiple kidney transplants over his lifetime.

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$10.5 million settlement

Medical malpractice

Breakdown: $5,000,000 million lump sum payment, $5,500,000 million annuity

Venue: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Case Number/Date: 2:21-CV-04235/Feb. 1, 2023

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Scott Levin (family medicine); Dr. Keith Kline (nephrology); Elizabeth Zaras (life care planning); Carl Hubbard (damages)

Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Howard Corwin (nephrology); Robert Shavelle (life expectancy); Elizabeth Martina (life care planning)

Caption: Matthew Rossignol v. United States of America

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Laurie Higginbotham, National Trial Law, Austin, Texas

Defendant’s Attorney: Matt Sparks, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kansas City

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