A Virginia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $882,000 in favor of a Loudoun County, Virginia sheriff’s deputy for the harm he suffered because the defendant orthopedic doctor failed to timely diagnose the talus fracture (ankle fracture) he suffered as a result of a traffic collision.
The Virginia medical malpractice plaintiff had demanded $500,000 to settle his medical malpractice claim but the defendant refused to pay. As a result, the plaintiff was entitled to interest on $332,000 from August 1, 2015. Judgment was therefore entered in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $1,204,000.
The Underlying Facts
The plaintiff was referred to the defendant orthopedic doctor regarding his right ankle injury suffered as a result of a traffic collision. The defendant orthopedic doctor referred the plaintiff for an MRI, which reportedly showed a possible lateral talus fracture. The radiologist who read the MRI recommended a CT scan in order to confirm the talus fracture but the defendant orthopedic doctor neither ordered a CT scan nor advised the plaintiff with regard to his possible talus fracture or the radiologist’s recommendation. The defendant orthopedic doctor instead chose to monitor the plaintiff’s condition for a period of several months and referred the plaintiff for physical therapy treatments.
The plaintiff was unable to bear weight on his ankle and his pain became worse during the period of time he was undergoing physical therapy treatments. Despite the plaintiff’s worsening condition and pain, the defendant doctor told both the plaintiff and his wife that the plaintiff’s pain was “in his head,” not in his ankle.
The plaintiff subsequently sought a second opinion at which time his talus fracture shown on the original MRI was finally diagnosed. The plaintiff had surgery to his right ankle shortly after obtaining the second opinion but the surgery was not successful in obtaining a union of the fracture. The plaintiff subsequently had two further surgeries: one to lengthen his Achilles tendon due to lack of use and the other to fuse his ankle to address his arthritic pain.
Due to the delay by the defendant orthopedic doctor in timely diagnosing and properly treating the plaintiff’s talus fracture, the plaintiff suffers from limited movement of his right ankle due to the ankle fusion surgery, arthritis in his right ankle, and pain. The plaintiff’s injuries cause him to have difficulties performing his job duties, performing household chores, and playing sports with his children.
The plaintiff’s medical expert testified during trial that there was a short window to repair the plaintiff’s displaced talus fracture and that surgery within that time frame more likely than not would have alleviated the need for the two subsequent surgeries that plaintiff underwent and that the plaintiff would not have suffered the arthritis and limitations he now experiences.
The defense medical expert testified that the plaintiff’s talus fracture due to the traffic collision was a significant injury and that initial conservative treatment was appropriate, and that the plaintiff would have required an ankle fusion in any event and that earlier surgery would not have prevented the development of arthritis.
The Virginia medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff $124,000 in past medical expenses. The trial judge did not permit the jury to consider the plaintiff’s claim for future loss of earnings or a portion of the plaintiff’s claim for past lost wages.
Thomas Lancaster III v. Cyrus M. Press, M.D., et.al., Prince William County Circuit Court, Case No.: CL17003534-00.
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