A delay in treating a woman who suffered an epidural hemorrhage, causing her permanent paralysis, has resulted in a $10.1 million jury verdict against Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound and two other parties.
A Dallas County jury returned the verdict Friday afternoon in favor of Judy “Jessie” Adams, finding the “willfull and wanton negligence” of the hospital caused Adams’ injuries. The jury also apportioned responsibility to Dr. Jon Vu, who administered an epidural steroid injection to Adams, and Pain & Spine Physicians, where Vu worked, finding Texas Health Presbyterian 69 percent liable, Vu 30 percent liable and Pain & Spine Physicians 1 percent liable.
The jury heard that Adams suffered an epidural hemorrhage March 21, 2019 following an epidural steroid injection she received from a pain management doctor. She was taken to Texas Health Presbyterian for emergency treatment and, despite a hospital policy that emergency surgeries take place within an hour of determining it is necessary, Adams waited five hours — two-and-a-half hours to get an MRI and another two-and-a-half hours before surgery commenced.
Adams alleged that delay resulted in the permanent paralysis of her lower extremities.
The jury awarded Adams $650,000 for past and future physical pain, $1.1 million for past and future mental anguish and $400,000 for past and future disfigurement. For past and future physical impairment the jury awarded $2.2 million, and for past and future medical expenses it awarded $3.4 million.
To Adams’ husband, Richard Adams, the jury awarded $260,000 for past and future loss of household services, $1.4 million for past and future loss of consortium and $715,000 for lost wages and earning capacity.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 23, 2020, and the jury began hearing testimony Nov. 29 before beginning deliberations Dec. 8. Michael Lyons of Lyons & Simmons, who represents Adams, told The Texas Lawbook that the jury deliberated for about eight hours before returning its verdict.
“This case is a timeline case, and what I mean by that is that the jury can make a decision on this case just by looking at the timeline,” Lyons said. “Our expert said you have a six-hour window from the time of injury until surgery and if you can get it before then, [the patient] improves greatly. But they blew that—she didn’t get into surgery for seven-and-a-half, eight hours.”
One pivotal moment at trial came when an emergency room nurse was on the stand, Lyons said. He asked the nurse whether the delay to get the MRI and the delay to begin surgery was “too long,” and she agreed it was and couldn’t provide a reason for the delay.
Dallas County District Judge Martin Hoffman presided over the trial.
Adams is also represented by Christopher W. Carr, Michael Fechner and Stephen Higdon of Lyons & Simmons.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound is represented by Russell Schell of Schell Cooley Campbell.
The case number is DC-20-17490.