Plaintiff was a 58 year old woman who was struck by an MBTA bus while crossing Washington Street in Boston in a crosswalk. At the time of the incident, she had the crossing signal and was abour 28 feet accross Washington Street. The bus, coming from behind and to her right, had a green light and was turning left onto Washington Street.
As a result of the left front tire running over her right leg, the leg had to be amputated 1.5 hours later just below the hip.
Defendants MBTA and Blake, the driver, claimed that plaintiff was more than 50% at fault for the incident. As a result, at the time the jury returned their verdict, there was no offer of settlement on the case. The jury found the driver and the T 100% at fault and awarded $3,987,011.00. With interest, the judgment as of the date of the verdict is greater than $5.4 million.
Believed to be one of the largest jury verdicts in Massachusetts for a plaintiff who suffered a leg amputation, the verdict received extensive media coverage. The television and radio interviews and other news reports can be seen and heard at the following links.
Family of Baby Doe v. Ambulance Company
The previously healthy ten month old plaintiff developed febrile seizures associated with a high fever. The parents called 911 to request an ambulance at their home. The 911 operator dispatched an ambulance as well as two local police cruisers. The ambulance got lost on its way to the home resulting in a thirteen minute delay in the response time. During that time, police from the town were at the home attempting to provide directions to the ambulance crew, which declined assistance.
Once at the home, the ambulance crew nonchalantly attended to the child who was suffering continuous seizures. On assessment, the child was noted to be hypoxic with a blood oxygen saturation of 78%. The ambulance team loaded the child into the ambulance and departed for the hospital. En route, the crew received an order from the medical control officer at the hospital to give the child Valium to control her seizures and reestablish proper breathing. The paramedic realized at that point that he had forgotten the key to the locked narcotics cabinet and therefore could not gain access to the necessary medication. A second ambulance was dispatched to the original ambulanceâ€™s station to pick up the narcotics key and intercept the first team en route to the hospital. There was an additional ten minute delay in the administration of Valium as a result of the forgotten key to the narcotics cabinet. By the time the child arrived at the hospital, she had been oxygen deprived for approximately forty minutes. She was eventually diagnosed with profound brain injury.
The minor plaintiff, who is presently five years old, is a spastic quadriplegic who is wheelchair bound and fed by a gastrostomy tube. She cannot communicate and dependant on others for all of her needs.
In discovery, it was determined that the negligent paramedic who prepared the ambulance run report had allegedly falsified a number of important items in the report, including the times of administration of medication as well as numerous vital signs.
The defendant claimed that any delay in the administration of seizure control medication did not change the outcome. They further contended that the minor plaintiffâ€™s seizures were so severe that they could not be controlled in the pre-hospital setting. Defendant also argued that the minor plaintiffâ€™s life expectancy was significantly less than the 55 year life expectancy which the plaintiffs claimed and that the cost of care of the minor plaintiff was significantly less than what the plaintiffs claimed.
Claims for the severe personal injuries were brought on behalf of the minor plaintiff and her parents for the medical malpractice of the ambulance attendants against the ambulance company only pursuant to G.L. c. 111, Â§ 14. The law prohibits claims against emergency medical technicians individually but permits claims against the employer who may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees.
This EMT malpractice case settled following two days of mediation in the capable hands of Boston attorney, John Fitzgerald.
Family of Baby Doe v. Dr. Doe
On January 17, 2001, the minor plaintiff was a healthy five-week old baby, who underwent elective surgical repair of an umbilical hernia at the Columbia MetroWest Medical Center. At the beginning of the anesthesia case, the baby experienced a complication which caused aspiration of blood and diminished breathing capacity. This was evidenced by rapid respiration rate, the need for supplemental oxygen, and a chest x-ray at which demonstrated bilateral pulmonary infiltrates.
Plaintiffs contended that the treating anesthesiologist abandoned the baby in the recovery room for a period of hours. During this time, the recovery room nurse gave the baby a water bottle, in violation of a doctor's order for nothing by mouth, which caused the baby to choke, gag, and spit up blood, worsening her complications.
After the baby turned blue and became unresponsive, the recovery room nurse had to summon help from the emergency department, since the anesthesiologists responsible for the baby, including one of the defendant physicians, were not responding to her call. The emergency room physician stabilized the baby by having her intubated, and she arranged a transfer of the baby to Childrenâ€™s Hospital in Boston.
Several hours later, a transport team arrived consisting of a nurse, an anesthesiology fellow (one of the defendants), and a pediatric resident (another of the defendants). An x-ray taken at that time demonstrated that the tip of endotracheal tube was located dangerously low in the trachea, close to the tracheal bifurcation.
Following intubation, the baby was stable and her oxygen saturation levels were around 100%. However, when the baby was moved by the transport team from the Columbia MetroWest bed to the transport team stretcher, her oxygen saturation levels plummeted and she suffered cardiac arrest.
When an intubated patient suffers sudden diminished oxygen saturations, the Pediatric Advanced Life Support protocols, require checking the position of the endotracheal (ET) tube. Tube assessment is made by visualization of the tube between the vocal cords, by listening with a stethoscope for breath sounds, and by observing chest movement during ventilation.
Instead of checking the position of the tube, the defendant anesthesia fellow from Children's Hospital squeezed the resuscitation bag with excessive pressure, which caused air to leak from the babyâ€™s lungs into the chest cavity, and then into the sac which surrounds the heart. The presence of air around the heart caused the heart to stop beating. During the approximately 45 minute arrest, the chief of the anesthesia department at the Columbia Hospital did little to assist in the resuscitation effort, despite his duty to do so under the hospital policy manual.
The pneumopericardium (air around the heart) and the right mainstem intubation were both evident on the first post-code x-ray taken eleven minutes into the arrest. The air was removed by another doctor who had come down from the emergency department. (This physician was initially named as a defendant, but was dismissed shortly before trial.) However, the tube position was not addressed until over one hour after the Code Blue began.
After the baby was transferred to Childrenâ€™s Hospital, there were no further problems maintaining proper oxygenation and blood gasses. However, the plaintiff was left with severe personal injuries, including anoxic ischemic brain damage, resulting in spastic quadraparesis.
The parents of the minor plaintiff were Guatemalan immigrants who had not graduated from high school and who spoke little English. They both worked, on opposite shifts, and took care of their baby at home, despite the overwhelming demands of her care.
Plaintiffs' lawyers conducted extensive pre-trial discovery, including approximately fifty depositions, since many of the defendants were blaming others for the baby's severe personal injuries.
The case settled in several stages.