In September 2003, Lisa Strong reported a sharp shooting pain in her back. She thought it was yet another kidney stone and expected the discomfort to pass, but this time it was different and became worse. Because of a series of mistakes, misdiagnosis and miscommunication, Lisa Strong lost both of her legs and both of her arms to amputation because of medical negligence.
Ms. Strong filed a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against various physicians whom she alleged caused her injuries and resulting amputations. The physicians all seemed to agree that there were profound medical errors that caused Ms. Strong’s injuries, but apportioned blame on each other.
However, the jury did not seem to agree that there was medical malpractice and returned a verdict of not guilty against all of the defendant doctors. There were numerous mistakes made by the various hospital doctors, which combined with the finger pointing by all the physicians during the trial made for a very confusing case. Lawyers involved in the case believe the not guilty verdict was a result of the jury being confused by the case facts and unable to correctly determine who was at fault.
In a rare move the trial judge threw out the jury’s verdict, concluding that the verdict was “contrary to the law and manifest weight of the evidence.” It is very rare for a trial judge to reverse a jury’s verdict with only 1/2 to 1% of verdicts being set aside in this manner. Most jury verdicts are left undisturbed by trial judges who prefer to let any issue of law be decided by the appeals process. A new trial has been ordered, which will give Ms. Strong another chance at pleading her case against the negligent physicians.
In this case the trial judge cited the overwhelming evidence for medical negligence as the reason behind overturning the verdict. The case facts are as follows. On the day Ms. Strong became ill she went to her local emergency department. On arrival Ms. Strong let a nurse know that she had a history of kidney stones and believed this was the cause of her pain. However, the kidney stone was never treated. Plaintiff alleges that this failure to adequately treat this condition led set off the downward turn of events that eventually led to her multiple amputations.
The untreated kidney stones led to an infection that caused Ms. Strong to go into septic shock. The sepsis in turn caused her limbs to become starved of oxygen, which eventually required bilateral below the knees amputations and bilateral below the elbow amputations. Ms. Strong’s total hospitalization spanned a period of 4 months and left her with over $850,000 in hospital bills. But perhaps the worst outcome of her medical care is that she is now forced to relearn to carry on with her day-to-day living with her new medical problems. Fortunately Ms. Strong has been given another chance at obtaining justice at a new trial.