Jury Awards Landmark Settlement in Brain Damage Case
A jury awarded more than $4 million to a Washington hospital in a landmark lawsuit involving a woman who was left severely brain damaged by a drug-addicted doctor.
Kim Jones was a happy and healthy 31-year-old mother when she delivered her third child at Kadlec Medical Center in January 2003. Then a routine tubal ligation changed her life forever.
“The doctor said it was going to be fine. It was a 10-minute procedure and there wouldn’t be any problems or anything,” said Chris Marisciotta, Jones’ fiancé.
Dr. Robert Lee Berry was Jones’ anesthesiologist for the procedure. According to the lawsuit, Berry removed Jones’ breathing tube prematurely. The lack of oxygen while she was still paralyzed from the anesthesia caused Jones severe brain damage.
Court records showed that Berry had an undisclosed drug problem and admitted to diverting drugs from patients for his own use.
His former employer, Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Louisiana, dismissed him after learning about his addiction to the narcotic painkiller Demerol. Nevertheless, his colleagues there wrote letters recommending Berry to Kadlec. His drug problem was never disclosed to his new employer.
Ron Perey, Jones’ attorney, said that recommending out-of-work doctors or nurses with known drug impairments to other hospitals is not an uncommon practice.
The jury penalized the Louisiana hospital for failing to notify Berry’s new employer of his known drug problem.
“A case like this has never been won before,” said Perey.
Attorneys hope that this lawsuit will mark a change in the healthcare industry.
Jones currently resides in a Michigan state hospital unable to care for herself. Her family settled a lawsuit against Kadlec and Berry’s insurance company for $8.5 million.
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