Double Amputee Awarded $6 Million for Orthopedic Surgeon’s Failures

In this medical malpractice case, the plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence in fasciotomies on his legs following a automobile accident. The jury awarded the plaintiff $6.285 million for medical bills, lost wages, and past and future noneconomic damages.

foot surgery

ByCarolyn Casey, J.D.

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Updated on February 16, 2023

foot surgery

Case Overview

Case Name: Terence A. Williams v. Dimensions Health Corporation Inc., N. S. Mcunu Arthur, Jr., Mohammad Ali Khan, M.D., and Blundon Montague, M.D.

Case Type: Medical Malpractice – Surgical Error; Failure to Monitor; Post-Operative Care

Injury:

  • Necrosis
  • Prosthesis
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Fasciotomy/Fasciectomy
  • Amputation – leg (below the knee)
  • Arterial/Vascular

Plaintiff Attorneys:

  • Gregory K. Wells; Shadoan, Michael & Wells, LLP
  • J. Wyndal Gordon; The Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon, P.A.

Defense Attorneys:

  • David A. Roling; Wharton Levin Ehrmantraut & Klein P.A. for Blundon Montague
  • Mary A. Downs; Downs Ward Bender Hauptmann & Herzog, P.A. for Health Dimension Corp. Inc.
  • Christian W. Kintigh; Downs Ward Bender Hauptmann & Herzog, P.A. for Health Dimension Corp. Inc.

Case Outcome: Verdict – Plaintiff

Award Amount: $6,285,549

What Happened?

Terence Williams, a 46-year-old security guard, was in a serious automobile accident in May 2014. Medical personnel at Prince George’s Hospital Center resuscitated him upon his arrival and evaluated his injuries.

After determining Williams had significant injuries to both legs and his left arm, trauma surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Ali Khan, vascular surgeon, Dr. N.S. Mcunu Arthur Jr., and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Blundon Montague, immediately treated Williams’s injuries in the operating room.

Leg Muscle Compartment Swelling

That same day, Dr. Montague performed an arthroscopic fasciotomy procedure on each of Williams’s legs. This procedure is necessary when a patient is experiencing compartment syndrome—a bleeding or swelling inside a muscle compartment that puts pressure on the facia surrounding the compartment and the nerves and blood vessels inside the muscle area.

Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency condition requiring a fasciotomy such as Montague performed on Williams. In this procedure, a doctor makes an incision in the skin and fascia to relieve the pressure on the area. If not treated promptly and properly, acute compartment syndrome can lead to restricted blood flow and, eventually, tissue death.

Fasciotomy After-Problems

In his post-surgery notes, Montague said that the musculature damage to Williams’s left leg could lead to the loss of the leg. Williams was kept under observation in the hospital for the next several days. On May 6, 2014, vascular surgeon Dr. Arthur looked at Williams’s left leg, which had lost blood flow. Dr. Arthur treated the leg and was able to restore the blood flow. In his operative report, Arthur stated that Williams’s right leg was showing restriction or reduction of blood flow changes. He also raised concerns about two incisions in the lower right leg that seemed to indicate the fasciotomy had been incomplete.

An outside orthopedic surgeon immediately took over orthopedic treatment of Williams after Dr. Arthur’s observation. She determined that there was muscle bulging in Williams’s right leg that required removal. She performed the surgery, taking care to save as much leg muscle as possible.

Eighteen days later, after a transfer to the University of Maryland Hospital’s shock trauma center, the extent of tissue death in Williams’s left leg was so extensive that the surgeon there had to amputate it below the knee. Several days later, his right leg suffered the same fate—amputation.

Post Amputation

Following his release from the hospital after the dual leg amputations, Terrence immediately began physical therapy and rehabilitation. His recovery included training and therapy for using prosthetics.

Over the next several years, Williams’s right leg stump required more than a few revisions.

The Lawsuit’s Allegations and Testimony

Williams filed a negligence lawsuit against Dr. Montague, Dr. Khan, Dr. Arthur, and Dimensions Health Corp. Inc., the operator of Prince George’s Hospital Center. Williams alleged that the doctors’ negligent care resulted in his leg amputations. Williams maintained that after his fasciotomy procedure, Dr. Montague failed to adequately monitor and treat him for compartment syndrome. Terrence also claimed that Dr. Montague had failed to complete the fasciotomy. Williams asserted that, as his employer, Dimensions Health was vicariously liable for Dr. Montague’s negligence.

During the proceedings, Dr. Arthur and Dr. Khan were dismissed from the case.

Could Doctors Have Saved Williams’s Right Leg?

The two sides argued extensively over the right leg prognosis, employing experts to testify at trial. The plaintiff’s surgery experts opined that Terrence’s right leg could have been saved after the accident if he had not developed compartment syndrome.

The defense argued that even if Williams’s right leg had been saved, it would not have functioned.

At trial, the plaintiff’s surgery experts testified that Dr. Montague had failed twice in his medical care of Williams. One, he failed to complete the fasciotomy. Two, he did not monitor Williams for compartment syndrome following the incomplete fasciotomies.

In contrast, the defense asserted that Montague’s treatment and monitoring of Terrence did comply with the established standard of care. The defendants also claimed that the automobile collision would have caused the loss of Williams’s right leg, regardless of Dr. Montague’s treatment.

The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert testified that the intense impact of the collision is what destroyed Williams’s right leg. Their vascular surgery expert concurred, specifying the outcomes happened because the collision damaged the microvasculature in Williams’s right foot.

Ambulation and Prosthetics Testimony

Williams testified the loss of his legs brought drastic changes to his life. He added that the use of the prosthetics is still a daily struggle, resulting in his almost constant need to use a wheelchair to get around.

His experts testified that Terrence’s leg pain will require an ongoing pain management program. They also told the jury that Williams will need several prosthetic replacements and require therapy for the remainder of his life. The plaintiff’s physical rehabilitation expert testified that Williams’s significant weight gain from being bedridden necessitates a weight-management program to get him in shape to use his prosthetics.

The defense’s prosthetics expert stated that Williams had not yet effectively used the prosthetics and was unlikely to ever be able to do so. This expert said Williams was no longer a candidate for prosthetics due to his weight gain and daily pain.

Damages Sought

Terrence Williams sought compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and past and future noneconomic damages.

The defense argued that Dr. Montague was not liable for Williams’s damages because Williams would have lost his right leg due to the collision anyway. The defense also asserted that as a double amputee, Williams’s life care needs were not much different than they would have been if his right leg had not been amputated.

Who Won the Case?

Plaintiff Terrence Williams won this case. After only two and a half hours of deliberation, a jury awarded him $6,285,549 in total damages.

Expert Specialities

The plaintiff retained expert witnesses in:

The defendants retained expert witnesses in:

Key Takeaways

A jury listened to numerous conflicting expert opinions on the technicalities of medical care and treatment for leg injuries after a automobile accident. In the end, the plaintiff’s experts were more effective in communicating their opinions to lay jurors. This reminds practitioners that highly qualified medical experts aren’t enough to win. The elusive ingredient of the ability to effectively distill complex medical jargon for jurors is an essential part of success.

About the author

Carolyn Casey, J.D.

Carolyn Casey, J.D.

Carolyn Casey is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in legal tech, e-discovery, and legal content creation. As Principal of WritMarketing, she combines her decade of Big Law experience with two decades in software leadership to provide strategic consulting in product strategy, content, and messaging for legal tech clients. Previously, Carolyn served as Legal Content Writer for Expert Institute, Sr. Director of Industry Relations at AccessData, and Director of Product Marketing at Zapproved, focusing on industry trends in forensic investigations, compliance, privacy, and e-discovery. Her career also includes roles at Iron Mountain as Head of Legal Product Management and Sr. Product Marketing Manager, where she led product and marketing strategies for legal services, and at Fios Inc as Sr. Marketing Manager, specializing in eDiscovery solutions.

Her early legal expertise was honed at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, where she developed legal strategies for mergers, acquisitions, and international finance matters. Carolyn's education includes a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, where she was a Senior Editor for the International Law Journal and participated in a pioneering China Summer Law Program. She also holds an AB in Political Science with a minor in art history from Stanford University. Her diverse skill set encompasses research, creative writing, copy editing, and a deep understanding of legal product marketing and international legal trends.

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