Record-Breaking $120 Million Verdict in Westchester Medical Center Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

On November 30, 2023, a Westchester jury rendered a record-breaking $120 million verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit against Westchester Medical Center. The lawsuit stemmed from the center’s failure to timely diagnose and treat the plaintiff, who had suffered from a stroke. The verdict marks the largest medical malpractice award in Westchester County.

Doctors observing scan results

ByAnjelica Cappellino, J.D.

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Published on January 26, 2024

Doctors observing scan results

What Happened?

Back in 2018, 41-year-old William Lee, a commercial real estate broker, had collapsed and was convulsing on his bathroom floor when his wife found him. She immediately called 911 and he was taken to Westchester County Medical Center at 3:40 am. The staff had suspected that Lee was suffering from a stroke and a CT scan was conducted. However, there was no board-certified radiologist available; the only doctors present at the time were the resident radiologists and resident neurologist, “both of whom were too inexperienced to read the CT scans,” as the plaintiff’s counsel alleged. The doctors concluded that the CT did not show any occlusion or clot. Three hours later, the attending radiologist arrived at the hospital and observed a basilar artery occlusion. A thrombectomy was performed to remove the clot but by that time, Lee had already sustained serious brain damage that was further exacerbated by a delayed diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome – an autoimmune disorder that causes blood clots.

Due to the extensive brain damage that severely impaired Lee’s judgment and short-term memory, Lee now resides in a residential brain center and requires lifelong, around-the-clock care. He is no longer able to work or provide for his wife and children.

The Trial and Verdict

In January 2020, Lee’s attorneys filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Westchester Medical Center on behalf of Lee and his wife, Anna Lee. At trial, the Plaintiff’s counsel Ben Rubinowitz of the law firm, Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf, repeatedly utilized the phrase “time is brain,” to emphasize the importance of timely diagnosing and treating a stroke and that Westchester Medical Center’s failure to rapidly act resulted in Lee’s life-changing injuries. Attorneys for Westchester Medical Center countered that Lee’s brain damage had already occurred before he was admitted to the hospital.

After a four-week trial and a day-long deliberation, the jury found in favor of the Plaintiffs, awarding them a total of $120 million, which included $9.375 million for past pain and suffering and over $41 million for future pain and suffering. Anna Lee received the same amounts for past and future losses of services, as well as $550,000 for medical expenses. The verdict also included awards for Lee’s future residential care, which will certainly be a significant cost in years to come.

Expert Involvement

Gaig Gair worked with Expert Institute to locate a vascular neurology expert with 20 years of experience in neurology and vascular neurology, to help determine the standard of care for the diagnosis and management of ischemic stroke in this case. This expert currently serves as an associate vascular neurologist, a vascular neurology attending, a staff neurohospitalist, and the director of the neurohospitalist division at a major regional hospital in Connecticut.

"I've been a lawyer for 40 years now," Rubinowitz said, "and I've never heard of a malpractice verdict like this." Westchester Medical Center declined to comment.

About the author

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, Esq., a New York Law School alumna and psychology graduate from St. John’s University, is an accomplished attorney at Meringolo & Associates, P.C. She specializes in federal criminal defense and civil litigation, with significant experience in high-profile cases across New York’s Southern and Eastern Districts. Her notable work includes involvement in complex cases such as United States v. Joseph Merlino, related to racketeering, and U.S. v. Jimmy Cournoyer, concerning drug trafficking and criminal enterprise.

Ms. Cappellino has effectively represented clients in sentencing preparations, often achieving reduced sentences. She has also actively participated in federal civil litigation, showcasing her diverse legal skill set. Her co-authored article in the Albany Law Review on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines underscores her deep understanding of federal sentencing and its legal nuances. Cappellino's expertise in both trial and litigation marks her as a proficient attorney in federal criminal and civil law.