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Top 10 Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Awards of 2022

At Expert Institute, we report on and cover a large number of medical malpractice and personal injury cases throughout the year. In this end-of-year recap, we’re highlighting the top verdicts and settlements of 2022.

Expert Institute

Written by
— Updated on December 20, 2022

Top 10 Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Awards of 2022

Discover litigation you might have missed and click through to the full articles to learn more about these significant cases.

$1 Billion Settlement Reached in Surfside Condo Collapse

In the early hours of June 24, 2021, a beachside condo building just north of Miami collapsed. The collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside killed 98 people and destroyed 55 of 136 units. Champlain Towers had started its required 40-year safety checkup and structural renovations were ongoing when the structure fell. Reports from as early as 1996 had identified structural problems in the pool deck and garage ceiling. A 2018 inspection again found damage to these areas. It was estimated that the repairs would cost $9 million and, unfortunately, the needed updates were never completed. Despite this, city records show that the Surfside building inspector informed residents at a November 2018 board meeting that the building was “in very good shape.”

This class action settlement is the second largest in Florida’s history. Plaintiffs in the class action argued that the poor construction and maintenance of Champlain Towers South was exacerbated by a luxury tower that was constructed immediately next door. The condo association, the City of Surfside, and engineering, architectural, and other property development and maintenance companies are all part of the settlement agreement. Survivors of the catastrophe and the families of those who died will receive payouts under the settlement.

READ: Nearly $1 Billion Settlement Tentatively Reached in Surfside Condo Collapse

$165M Verdict in Fatal Car Crash Upheld by New Mexico Supreme Court

In June of 2011, a FedEx tractor-trailer crashed into a small pickup truck on Interstate 10 in New Mexico. The crash killed the driver of the pickup truck and her four-year-old daughter. A third occupant, the driver’s 19-month-old son, suffered injuries but survived. The driver of the FedEx truck also died as a result of the accident. A Sante Fe jury awarded the plaintiff $165 million in damages. FedEx appealed the verdict to the New Mexico Court of Appeals arguing the award, the largest of its type in New Mexico’s history, was excessive.

After a five-month review, a judge denied FedEx’s request for a new trial. FedEx then appealed the decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which unanimously affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision. The $165 million verdict consists of several smaller damages awards. All of the awards were a result of the facts of the accident and the resulting deaths and injuries.

READ: New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds $165 Million Verdict in Fatal Car Crash 

$111M Awarded to College Student for Negligent Care Post-Surgery

Anuj Thapa, a Nepali citizen, was attending college at St. Cloud State University in 2017 when he severely injured his leg during a pickup soccer game. He was taken to CentraCare’s St. Cloud Hospital and diagnosed with a severe leg fracture requiring immediate surgery. The orthopedic doctor on call performed the surgery that evening. The following morning, Thapa complained of intense pain, burning, and numbness but was still discharged. He returned to the hospital six days later in unbearable pain and was diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome, a medical emergency resulting from excess pressure build-up in a group of muscles.

In the civil lawsuit, Thapa claimed that the hospital strayed from proper medical practice and failed to fully evaluate his initial symptoms and identify the acute compartment syndrome. The complaint alleged that the health care system’s standard of care departure played a substantial role in causing Thapa’s severe, permanent, and disabling injuries. The jury awarded Thapa more than $111 million for past and future pain, emotional distress, and medical expenses. The verdict is believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict in Minnesota history.

READ: Jury Awards $111M to College Student for Negligent Care Post-Surgery

$97.4M Verdict in Birth Injury Case Sets Iowa Record

On August 11, 2018, the plaintiff arrived at Mercy Hospital Iowa City with contractions. Up to this point, she had a normal pregnancy and the child’s prenatal condition was unremarkable. However, during the delivery, the plaintiffs allege that the baby suffered oxygen deprivation and the obstetrician in charge and the hospital staff failed to act. Upon his birth, the baby demonstrated respiratory distress and required resuscitation. Ultimately, he spent 46 days in the neonatal intensive care unit before going home. Signs of damage to the skull and brain appeared on CT and MRI scans and the child later had surgery to place a shunt in his head that will remain in place for the rest of his life.

According to the complaint, the doctor and hospital failed to meet the standard of care by continuing to attempt a vaginal delivery even after signs indicated a cesarean section was necessary. The child, now 4 years old, is unable to walk unaided and he only speaks a few words. The lawsuit claims he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. The $97.4 million award includes compensation for future medical and care expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of mind and body function. It is the largest medical malpractice award in Iowa’s history.

READ: Iowa Family Receives Largest Medical Malpractice Award in State’s History

$80M Win for Man Disabled Due to Malpractice During Birth

The plaintiff in this case was born extremely premature in 2003. His mother’s medical history had indicated that proper monitoring for cervical length and treatment like cerclage, a procedure in which the cervix is reinforced with sutures to prevent preterm birth, were necessary for her to carry the pregnancy to term. However, her physicians at Jacobi Medical Center in New York failed to heed the information and did not perform several tests, including a serial transvaginal ultrasound to check on cervical length. As a result, the plaintiff was born at just 23 weeks gestation and spent the first 16 months of his life in various medical centers.

The plaintiff’s injuries resulting from his premature birth are severe and many are permanent including cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, and profound intellectual disability. The law firm Duffy & Duffy represented the plaintiff and his family in a negligence case against Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. Ultimately, the jury found that the hospital and its physicians were solely responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and awarded an $80 million verdict.

READ: Duffy & Duffy Obtains Historic $80M Verdict for Disabled Young Man

$73.1M Awarded for Negligent Care During Childbirth

Lorenza Botello, a 36-year-old woman with diabetes, gave birth to her son, Jonathan Betello, on March 24, 2013. The birth, which took place at Pecos Valley Medical Center under obstetrician Dr. Jerry McLaughlin, had complications. Jonathan suffered shoulder dystocia and a brachial plexus injury while stuck in the birth canal during delivery. He was also deprived of oxygen for nearly 10 minutes. At the same time, Lorenza endured severe vaginal lacerations while Dr. McLaughlin used a vacuum-extraction device to pull Jonathan out.

The plaintiffs brought a negligence suit against Dr. McLaughlin, Pecos Valley of New Mexico, a delivery room nurse, and the hospital operator. Legal proceedings were eventually dismissed against the nurse and hospital operator, and Dr. McLaughlin passed away prior to trial. The lawsuit against Pecos Valley of New Mexico proceeded. The plaintiffs maintained that Dr. McLaughlin departed from the standard of care and medical experts opined that because of Lorenza’s age and diabetic condition, there was a known risk that the baby could be larger than normal. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs after an eight-day trial and awarded $73.1 million in damages to Jonathan and Lorenza Botello.

READ: Obstetrician’s Negligent Care During Childbirth Results in $73.1 Million Award

$61.6M Verdict Holds Doctors Accountable for Preventable Amputation

On December 17, 2010, Peter Sfameni, a 55-year-old man, went to the Rhode Island Hospital emergency room complaining of lower back pain, fatigue, and weight loss. Doctors ordered him to stop taking an anticoagulant medication for his blood-clotting disorder so that they could perform a colonoscopy to determine if he had lymphoma. When Sfameni later returned to the hospital for another procedure, a lymph-node biopsy, doctors found that he was hyper-coagulated and he was admitted while a bone marrow biopsy was performed. Following the biopsy, he was discharged and told to stay off blood thinners until the lymph-node biopsy could be performed.

On December 28th, Sfameni became seriously ill and was readmitted to the hospital experiencing life-threatening blood clots in his legs and lungs. Ultimately, his right leg became severely gangrenous and required amputation above the knee. Sfameni filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against two doctors involved in his care and their employer as well as Rhode Island Hospital. The lawsuit alleged that Sfameni would not have suffered life-threatening blood clots and the loss of his leg if doctors had properly administered blood thinners when he was discharged.

The unanimous jury found the defendants negligent in their treatment of Sfameni and awarded damages totaling $40 million. The final award, which included a 12% interest rate as mandated by law, amounted to more than $61.6 million.

READ: $61.6M Jury Award Holds Doctors Accountable for Preventable Amputation

$49.25M Win for Man Who Lost his Intestines Following Gallbladder Removal

42-year-old Joseph Browning went to the emergency room at Advocate Health & Hospitals Corporation’s Lutheran General facility suffering from severe pain in his side and back. He was diagnosed with acute gallbladder inflammation and Dr. Daniel Resnick performed a laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery. Following his gallbladder removal, Browning was not recovering well. He ultimately suffered severe sepsis, septic shock, and multi-organ failure. He was intubated and put on a ventilator.

Throughout his post-surgical deterioration, medical records showed that Dr. Resnick did not visit or examine his patient. Additional surgeries were eventually required to remove Browning’s small bowel, small and large intestines, and a portion of his stomach. As a result, Browning required a small intestine transplant, suffered from stage 3 kidney disease, lost all his teeth, and endures progressive depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Browning and his wife sued for negligence, contending that the surgeon’s failure to do a timely surgical exploration of the abdomen exacerbated his injuries. Expert testimony proved critical in the case, and the jury ultimately found the defendants negligent and awarded $49.25 million.

READ: Man Who Lost his Intestines After Gallbladder Removal Awarded $49.25 Million

$44.5M Verdict for Delayed Diagnosis of Brain Damage

Bradley Metts, a 9-year-old, visited his pediatrician’s office three times in October and November of 2013 complaining of ear pains and fevers. He was diagnosed with mononucleosis and told to rest at home. But when Metts’ condition did not improve, his parents took him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with subdural posterior fossa empyema, a rare and dangerous brain infection requiring immediate surgery. The infection caused brain swelling and herniation, leading to brain damage that left Metts entirely paralyzed and unable to move anything but his left eye.

Metts’ parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the pediatric office, the doctor, and the nurse practitioner alleging that they failed to properly examine, diagnose, and treat the initial ear infection that led to the brain infection. Specifically, they claimed that the lab work ordered by the pediatric office through Athens Medical Lab was not properly reported and led to a delay in diagnosis. They also sued Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the neurosurgeon for failure to provide intracranial pressure monitoring after the brain surgery. Athens Medical Lab was the only defendant to proceed to trial; the other defendants entered into settlement agreements.

The jury ultimately found in favor of the plaintiffs and apportioned liability to Athens Medical Lab, University Medical Associates, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the nurse practitioner. They awarded $44.5 million for life-care costs, compensatory damages, and past medical expenses.

READ: 9-Year-Old Wins $44.5 Million Verdict for Delayed Diagnosis of Brain Damage

$35.4M for Doctor’s Carelessness in Recording Medical Condition

Andrea Larkin was 25 years old when she began experiencing ongoing dizziness and first consulted her primary care physician, Dr. Jehane Johnston. An MRI and CAT scan revealed abnormalities in Larkin’s brain that were never reported on her problem list, a medical document that states a patient’s most important health problems. Several years later, Larkin suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke during the delivery of her daughter causing her to lose function in all extremities other than her right arm. After two post-stroke procedures and months of rehabilitation, Larkin required 24/7 care and was unable to work as a teacher.

In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, Dr. Johnston, never discussed the medical significance of the imaging finding with Larkin and failed to disclose her brain abnormalities. This negligence and breach in the standard of care led to labor complications. The jury sided with the plaintiffs, awarding $35.4 million for future medical costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and more.

READ: Doctor’s Carelessness in Recording Medical Condition Results in Significant Award

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