November 23, 2011

The surviving wife of a 44-year-old Maine man who died in the hospital on his birthday (which was also Mother’s Day) received a favorable jury verdict during early June, 2011. The man’s death was witnessed by his wife, children, and parents who had gathered at the hospital to celebrate his birthday and Mother’s Day. The Maine jury found that the hospital, treating doctors, and nurses were negligent in their care of the man and that their negligence was the cause of his death.

The man was severely injured as a result of a roll-over accident involving the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that he was driving. He suffered broken ribs and had symptoms of internal bleeding. The medical malpractice lawsuit claimed that the treating doctors failed to properly follow up on indications of the man’s internal bleeding, including their failure to order follow-up x-rays to monitor the internal bleeding.

After 36 hours in the hospital, the internal bleeding led to one of the man’s lungs to collapse, with the resulting lack of oxygen leading to a massive heart attack, from which he did not survive. The medical malpractice claim alleged that with prompt and proper treatment, including the placement of a chest tube that would have drained accumulating fluid, the man’s death was avoidable. The medical malpractice defendants alleged that the man died from a unexpected and unpredictable rupture of an artery that no medical testing could have prevented. After a six-day trial, the jury agreed with the surviving wife’s claims.

Maine’s cap (limit) on noneconomic damages for conscious pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress will result in the reduction of the jury’s verdict in the amounts of  $1 million for the man’s conscious pain and suffering and $4.5 million for the wife’s loss of companionship and emotional distress, to less than half-a-million dollars for both.


This case is an example of the inadequacy and the injustice of caps (limits) placed by state legislatures on the amount of noneconomic damages determined and awarded by juries. If juries are entrusted to determine if medical providers were negligent and were guilty of committing medical malpractice resulting in injuries to the victims of their medical mistakes and errors, and to determine the amount of money to be awarded for such injuries, damages, and losses, then why is it appropriate or desirable for the juries’ hard work to be ignored and set-aside to the detriment of medical malpractice victims and to the unjustified benefit of medical malpractice wrongdoers? When did it become constitutionally right to suborn a jury’s inviolate decision to a legislature’s politically-motivated  decision? Aren’t we all at risk with regard to our constitutionally-protected rights when elected officials have veto power over judicial decisions?

If you or a loved one in Maine or in another state in the U.S. were injured as a result of medical malpractice committed by a negligent medical provider, you may be entitled to compensation for your resulting injuries and losses. Visit our website or call us toll free 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with bringing a medical malpractice claim.

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