$20 Million Awarded to Amputee in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Case

Former Massachusetts construction worker, Steven Luppold, was awarded $20 million after undergoing an amputation due to a misdiagnosed blood clot.

$20 Million Awarded to Amputee in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Case

ByZach Barreto

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Updated on April 20, 2023

$20 Million Awarded to Amputee in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Case

A Middlesex County Superior Court jury returned a verdict for the highest medical malpractice award of the year. Former Massachusetts construction worker, Steven Luppold, was awarded $20 million after undergoing an amputation due to a misdiagnosed blood clot.

The Background

Mr. Luppold, 35, of Lowell, MA presented at the Lowell General Hospital Emergency Department on March 7, 2015, complaining of back pain radiating down to his left leg. While Mr. Luppold had a documented history of sciatica, which is back pain that radiates down the leg, he was concerned because of the discomfort he was experiencing in his left foot.

Mr. Luppold underwent a physical examination at the emergency department. The examination revealed that his left foot was cool and purple. Based upon this examination, physician assistant Charles Loucraft diagnosed Mr. Luppold with worsening sciatica and sent him home without further treatment or examination.

On March 13, 2015, Mr. Luppold returned to the emergency department complaining of pain in his left ankle that rose to the level of 10 on a scale of 1-10. The nurse that examined Mr. Luppold concluded that his complaints were associated with his sciatica.

On March 17, 2015, after experiencing ongoing pain, Mr. Luppold contacted his primary care physician and presented at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. Mr. Luppold underwent an ultrasound, which revealed left leg deep vein thrombosis and arterial thrombosis. Based on this diagnosis, Mr. Luppold was summarily transported to the emergency department. At the emergency department, a vascular surgeon ordered a CT scan that showed that the tissue in his left leg was dying.

On March 18, 2015, Mr. Luppold’s doctors concluded that they had to amputate his leg above the knee.

The Allegations

Mr. Luppold, represented by Robert Higgins, filed a lawsuit against Lowell General Hospital emergency department staff and medical staff for Merrimack Valley Emergency Associates. James Bello represented the Merrimack Valley Emergency Associates medical staff and Peter Kelley represented the Lowell General Hospital emergency department staff.

The suit alleged Mr. Luppold’s left leg was amputated after being twice misdiagnosed with sciatica. According to Mr. Luppold’s attorney, his leg could have been saved if the staff ordered an ultrasound during his first emergency department visit.

The Verdict

The trial was held in Middlesex Superior Court. After two days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of $20 million in favor of Mr. Luppold. The verdict consisted of $10 million for pain and suffering and another $10 million to compensate for the lifetime loss of a leg.

The verdict, the state’s largest medical malpractice award of the year according to data compiled by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, surpassed Mr. Luppold’s request of $16 million. In egregious medical malpractice cases resulting in loss of limb, paralysis, terminal illness, or sterility, jurors are especially sympathetic to plaintiffs. As such, plaintiffs’ attorneys have the ability to demand high awards, particularly in jurisdictions without caps on damages.

About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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