Settlements, Judgments, and Verdicts
Below are some of the actual settlements, judgments, and verdicts won by Mark W. Smith & Associates PLC for its’ clients.
Slip and Fall $2.6 million dollars Jury Verdict
Client was walking at one of New Orleans’ premier downtown shopping centers when she slipped and fell in a liquid, sustaining a significant lower back injury She subsequently developed Arachnoiditis Syndrome, an inflammation of the lower spinal cord. During the course of discovery it was determined that mall personnel were aware of the liquid on the floor and had walked away without taking the appropriate steps to either mark it, clean it up, or to place shoppers on notice of its existence.
Attempts to settle the case during the course of Mediation failed when the shopping center made a top offer of $90,000.00. After a four day trial, a jury entered a verdict with a value worth $2.6 million dollars.
Medical Malpractice $710,000.00 Judge Verdict
Failure to diagnose Bladder Cancer
Client presented to her Urologist complaining of difficulty urinating. Radiological testing showed a blockage to the mouth of the bladder which later turned out to be bladder cancer. The clients Urologist ignored or misinterpreted the radiological study and continued non specific treatment. Client’s bladder cancer mestastisized resulting in her death. After a judge trial the doctor and the Louisiana Patients Compensation Fund paid the $500,000.00 statutory maximum for pain and suffering and lost income plus medical expenses of $210,000.00.
Automobile Accident $900,000.00 Judge Verdict
Clients estranged husband was involved in a head on collision in a rural Louisiana parish after a night of drinking with another woman. An autopsy revealed that the client’s deceased husband had a blood alcohol content of .021, more than twice the legal limit. However, the driver of the other vehicle indicated that he may have “dozed off” right before the accident.
Extensive computer assisted accident reconstruction was undertaken and it was determined that the accident actually occurred in the client’s deceased husband’s lane of travel. Although the decedent was drunk, the judge found that the cause of the accident was the driver of the other vehicle crossing the center line and into the intoxicated decedent’s path.
In addition to a difficult liability case the driver of the other vehicle was an oil rig roustabout with no insurance coverage. However, discovery undertaken during the course of litigation showed that the driver of the other vehicle had just gotten off of a 14 day hitch on an offshore oil rig and had been driving home that night when he received a phone call from his employer asking him to turn around and return to the rig to take over the shift of another worker who had become ill. The driver turned around and was en route back to the dock site to catch a boat back out to the rig when the accident occurred. It was argued by plaintiff’s counsel that the oil rig worker was acting in the course and scope of his employment and that that driver’s employer was legally responsible for the driver’s actions.
The matter went all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court who agreed with client’s position that the employer continued to exercise control over the tortfeasor driver and that therefore the employer was legally liable for the accident. The oil rig worker’s employer was required to pay the judgment.
Civil Rights Violation $7,400,000.00 Jury Verdict
Wrongful Imprisonment / Malicious Prosecution/
Murder Conviction Overturned
Client was convicted of murder in 1986. Four years later one of the clients family members over heard in a bar the investigating police officer bragging that he had hidden evidence which would have shown the client was innocent of the murder in question. The evidence from the investigating police officer was obtained from the police officer by means of subterfuge and, after it was presented to the court which had originally rendered the guilty conviction, the client was granted a new trial. At the second trial, with all of the evidence in hand, the client was found not guilty of the murder in question.
Client brought a civil suit against the Sheriff’s Office and the investigating police officer alleging violation of civil rights, wrongful imprisonment, and wrongful conviction. After a weeklong jury trial in federal court a verdict was rendered with a value of $7.4 million dollars against the officer.
Automobile Accident/Insurance Bad Faith $203,000.00 Jury Verdict
Rotator Cuff and wrist injuries ($40,000 bad faith penalties)
Client was rear-ended in an automobile accident in which he sustained a torn rotator cuff with impingement syndrome as well as a triangular fibro-cartilage tear of the right wrist. The tortfeasors insurance company paid its $25,000.00 policy limits. Client then brought a claim under his own uninsured motorist policy seeking additional damages.
The UM insurer, Allstate, made a tender offer of $45,000.00 in additional damages but refused to pay any more thereafter. Client sued his UM carrier alleging bad faith and failing to properly adjust his claim for damages.
A jury trial in the matter was conducted and an award in the amount of $138,000.00 in additional damages was made. In addition the court awarded $40,000.00 in penalties to the client for Allstate’s arbitrary and capricious refusal to pay an appropriate amount under the UM policy. Client’s total recovery was $203,000.00.
Product Liability $1.2 million dollars Settlement
Internal Injuries, spleen, liver laceration, bruised kidney, concussion
Client was injured when he placed himself in harms’ way attempting to provide aid and rescue to a fellow worker who had his arm trapped by the collapse of a crane gantry. Counsel for plaintiff successfully argued that clients decision to place himself in danger should not be held against him under the Rescue Doctrine which states that a person going to the aid and assistance of someone else in danger should not be held to the same standard of care.
It was subsequently determined that the gantry collapse was due to improper assembly. Client suffered a ruptured spleen, a damaged kidney and closed head injury.
Medical Malpractice $1.2 million dollars Settlement
Failure to Diagnose Spinal Lesion/bladder impairment/hemi-paresis
Client sought treatment at a local hospital emergency room complaining of a sudden onset of severe back pain with no precipitating trauma. He was given mild pain killers and muscle relaxers and sent home. He returned the next day this time complaining of pain in his legs as well as severe back pain. Once again he was sent home.
The next day the client sought treatment at a different facility. He was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor which was compressing his spinal cord and underwent emergency surgery. The delay in treatment caused client to suffer partial paralysis of his lower extremities. The hospital and Louisiana Patients Compensation Fund paid the statutory maximum of $500,000.00 plus an additional $700,000.00 for future medical care.
Medical Malpractice $600,000.00 Settlement
Failure to Diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome/drop foot
Client sustained a low back injury while working in his yard. He sought treatment at the local hospital where he was diagnosed with a herniated disc. While in the hospital client began experiencing significant pain and numbness in his lower extremities and began having difficulty urinating. These are symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome and constitute a surgical emergency. Despite these clear symptoms of a significant injury the treating physician failed to operate in a timely manner and client was left with a drop foot.
Medical Malpractice $50,000.00 Settlement
Foreign Object left in patient
Client underwent open heart surgery during the course of which a suture needle broke in half. A piece of the needle remained imbedded in the clients sternum. Three weeks later client had to undergo a minor surgery to remove the imbedded piece of metal. There were no complications.
Nursing Home Negligence $250,000.00 Settlement
80 year old client suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia fell out of his wheelchair, fracturing his hip. The nursing home and its personnel were negligent in that they failed to have the client strapped into his wheelchair.
Insurance Bad Faith $175,000.00 Settlement
Failure to Pay for Medical Treatment
Shortly after purchasing a new health insurance policy client suffered a cardiac arrhythmia. The doctor recommended additional testing but, alleging that the cardiac condition was a pre-existing condition and not covered under the policy, the insurance company refused to pay for the additional testing. Client suffered additional cardiac problems. In addition to the insurance company being forced to pay all of his medical bills it was forced to pay $175,000.00 in bad faith damages.
Automobile Accident $185,000.00 Settlement
Neck Injury/Minimal impact accident
Client, an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician, was rear-ended in a very low speed collision. Damage to client’s vehicle was less than $100.00, however, he began suffering from neck and arm pain. Radiological studies indicated bulging discs. Client argued that he was no longer able to undertake surgical procedures requiring great endurance. The defendants retained an expert who alleged that the force of the impact was insufficient to cause the injuries alleged by client. On pre-trial motions the insurance company’s expert was discredited and the insurance company settled shortly thereafter for $185,000.00.
Products Liability $125,000.00 Settlement
Client rented a bed to place in his apartment. The bed was delivered and assembled by rental company’s employee. Shortly after they left the client went to sit on the edge of the bed and it collapsed causing him to strike his eye against a bedpost. He suffered a blunt injury trauma which resulted in corneal damage. Client underwent one surgery but shortly thereafter Hurricane Katrina intervened and he was unable to secure appropriate follow up treatment. As a result client suffered a permanent partial loss of 10% of vision in that eye. Settlement of $125,000.00.
Medical Malpractice $50,000.00 Settlement
Faulty Equipment/Sprained Hip
Client was scheduled to undergo a routine D & C for removal of a cyst on her cervix. While on the operating table, before the procedure started, the stirrups in which her legs were placed collapsed causing her to fall off of the table and injure her hip. Client suffered extreme embarrassment as a result of the fall as well as the injury to her hip.
Medical Malpractice $50,000.00 Settlement
Second Degree Burn
Client was hospitalized for a pancreatic biopsy. Prior to the procedure he suffered a minor injection injury to his arm causing swelling at the site. To treat the swelling the nursing staff applied a heating pad. The heating pad was placed under the clients arm prior to and during the course of the biopsy and was left there approximately an hour while the client was under anesthesia. When the client woke he discovered he had developed severe blistering, constituting a second degree burn, where the heating pad had been.
Trip and Fall $215,000.00 Settlement
Arthroscopic knee surgery
Client, while carrying office supplies, took the stairs to exit from the parking garage of the office building where she worked. As she exited the door from the garage to the outside there was step down immediately on the threshold of the door. She tripped, fell and sustained injury to her knee requiring surgery.
Investigation revealed that the threshold did not meet appropriate codes at the time that the building was constructed and that there should have been an eight inch “run-out” at same height as the door’s bottom.
Medical Malpractice $500,000.00 (plus all future medicals) Settlement
Renal Failure/Kidney Disease/End Stage Renal Disease
Shortly after clients birth it was noticed that he was considered small for his age and fell into the bottom 20% of benchmarks for children similar age. His short stature and light weight continued throughout his childhood and was attributed by his pediatrician to the fact that his parents were also relatively small in stature.
At approximately aged 14 client began experiencing significant knee trouble. At that time it was determined that he had uric acid crystals forming in his joints. A consult with an Endocrinologist revealed that the client suffered from chronic renal insufficiency and was now in end stage renal disease. This chronic renal insufficiency is what directly led to his small stature and the formation of uric acid crystals in his knee joints.
Defendant pediatrician paid the statutory maximum of $500,000.00 for general damages and the Patient’s Compensation Fund agreed to pay all of the clients medical bills, including those for a kidney transplant and those associated with human growth hormone treatment. Future medical costs paid by the Patient’s Compensation Fund approached one million dollars.
Medical Malpractice $500,000.00 Settlement
Failure to Diagnose Hyperlypidemia/Elevated Cholesterol Levels
44 year old decedent (husband and father of two) suffered a massive and fatal heart attack while attempting to start a stubborn lawn mower at his home. The decedent had no prior history of cardiac problems. A review of his medical records from his family physician indicated that two years previously a routine blood test showed that the decedent suffered from Hyperlypidemia (extremely high cholesterol levels). Expert testimony indicated that had the decedent’s treating physician started him on anti-cholesterol statins at that point in time that the clogged artery which led to his massive heart attack may have been avoided.
The settlement was for the statutory maximum of $500,000.00.
Slip and Fall $575,000.00 Settlement
Knee Replacement Surgery
Client was shopping at a small chain service station quick stop when she slipped on a wet floor, injuring her right knee. According to the client, the store’s aisles were being mopped by a female who had failed to put up any sort of warning signs. The Client reported the fall to the woman who had been mopping.
The store owners later claimed that they had no female employees on duty at that time, that there was no accident report, and, coincidentally, that the security cameras were “inoperative” on that date.
Pre-trial investigation revealed that a female “floater” was used by the corporate office of the stores to provide occasional janitorial duties at several of the different corporate owned locations. The female employee admitted that not only had she been the one who was mopping the floor at the time of the accident but that she had reported the incident to corporate.
Slip and Fall $725,000.00 Settlement
Ruptured Lumbar Disc Requiring Surgery.
63-year-old security guard at a federal government facility in Eastern New Orleans was on her lunch break when she went to use the bathroom. Upon exiting, she slipped and fell on water which was located on the tile floor immediately in front of the bathroom door severely injuring her back. Client sued both the company who had been awarded the management contract to operate the building and the company which had won the contract from the federal government to provide cleaning and maintenance services.
During the course of litigation it was discovered that the inspection procedures and procedures to detect and correct or prevent slip and fall hazards were inadequate and not properly followed. Settlement was reached with the various defendants in the total amount of $725,000.
Roof Collapse $800,000.00 Settlement
Broken Arms, Lacerations, Hernia
Client was a 30-year-old journeyman electrician working for his cousin’s HVAC/electrical repair service off the books. Bar operator who leased the ground floor of a three-story building in the Warehouse District of New Orleans began having issues with his air-conditioning in the building. The Bar owner hired the client’s employer to repair the bar’s HVAC unit. The mechanical components of the HVAC unit servicing the bar were mounted on a platform on the side of the three-story building overhanging an adjoining two-story building. The only way to access the mechanical components of the HVAC units was to climb onto the roof of the two-story building and walk approximately 10 feet to the hanging compressors. Client followed his employer onto the roof of the adjoining building and began walking towards the hanging HVAC components when one section of the roof collapsed dropping the client approximately 20 feet to the ground. Client suffered two broken arms, a laceration to the head and a hernia. Suit was filed against both the owner of the three-story building and the owner of the adjoining two-story building. The owner of the two-story building claimed that the client was trespassing but discovery proved that the owner of the two-story building was well aware of the fact and had in the past allowed people to work on the hanging HVAC units to use his roof to access them. The owner of the three-story building had violated city building codes when he had relocated the HVAC components from the roof to the side of the building after Hurricane Katrina.
The owner of the three-story building where the bar was located paid $400,000 and the owner of the adjoining building of the roof which had collapsed (the stwo0story building) also paid $400,000 for a total settlement of $800,000.
Auto Accident $175,000.00 Settlement
Torn Rotator Cuff/Surgery
Client was struck in the driver’s side door by another motorist who had passed out due to a medical condition. Client, a petroleum engineer, suffered a torn rotator cuff that eventually required surgery.
Medical Malpractice $1,025,000.00 Settlement
Failure to Diagnose Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Client had sought treatment from defendant Dermatologist for sun related lesions on his cheek. The dermatologist diagnosed them as harmless and benign actinic keratoses and removed them using cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen freezing).
The lesions kept returning and Client returned to the Dermatologist twice more over the course of two years, always with the same diagnosis and same treatment being offered. Never was a simple shave biopsy suggested or performed by the Dermatologist. After the last cryotherapy, one of the lesions started to bleed and finally a shave biopsy was performed revealing squamous cell carcinoma. Normally a very treatable form of skin cancer with a survival rate of over 95%. Unfortunately the Client’s cancer had metastasized throughout his head and neck ultimately killing him.
The Dermatologist and Patient’s Compensation Fund paid the statutory cap of $500,000.00 plus another $525,000.00 in past medical expenses associated with Client’s treatment.
Medical Malpractice $400,000.00 Settlement
Delayed Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
Client went in for a routine hernia surgery in June and while there underwent a CT scan of the abdomen. The CT scan had an incidental finding of a mass on his liver. The radiologist made the recommendation that his physician follow up on the liver mass. However, not only was there no follow up, but Client was not even told of the finding of a mass on his liver. Apparently his physician had not bothered to read the CT scan report or, if he read it, he ignored it.
Several months later Client begins experiencing severe stomach pains and weight loss. He was hospitalized the day after Christmas and while undergoing testing for suspected mesentery ischemia, the June CT scan was discovered by the gastroenterologist. Testing revealed that the liver mass has metastasized and Client was now terminal. Client died six days later.
Post mortem testing showed that the cancer was pancreatic in nature. A cancer with a very low survival rate. Even had it been caught and treated six months earlier expert testimony showed that the delay in diagnosis caused Client to lose only three to six months of his life span.
Medical Malpractice $250,000.00 Settlement
Chlorohexidine (Hibiclens) Exposure, Corneal Abrasion, Corneal Edema
Client underwent a rhinoplasty procedure. At the time she was put under anesthesia she had no vision problems. However, when she woke up, the client reported severe pain and burning of her eyes. An ophthalmological consult was ordered which revealed corneal edema and abrasions and irritations of the corneas and conjunctiva of both left and right eyes. The abrasions and the corneal edema was treated in follow-up but the corneas continued to thicken and cloud eventually necessitating replacement of the corneas with artificial lenses.
Investigation revealed that the corneal edema and abrasions on the client’s eyes was consistent with exposure to a topical antiseptic known as Hibiclens or chlorhexidine. It was discovered that this topical antiseptic was used by the surgical team to wipe down portions of the client’s face prior to the rhinoplasty. Apparently, the amount used was excessive or was applied in a haphazard manner resulting in injuries to the client.
Medical Malpractice $900,000.00 Settlement
Allopurinol Hypersensitivity, Toxic Epidermal Necrosis (TENS), Stevens Johnson Syndrome(SJS).
Client a 64-year-old with a history of stroke and chronic kidney failure was admitted to the hospital with complaints of diarrhea and stomach pains. Testing showed that in addition to chronic kidney failure, the client was suffering from transient hyperuricemia (elevated uric acid levels) to treat the hyperuricemia the client’s physician ordered Allopurinol, in the amount of 150 mg a day. Upon the patient’s discharge from the hospital two days later, the treating physician increased the Allopurinol doses to 300 mg a day.
Allopurinol is not a benign drug. It is well-known that there is a link between Allopurinol and severe reactions that lead to a dangerous and frequently fatal illnesses known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrosis Syndrome (TENS). In these conditions, a patient’s skin begins to die, slough off, and the internal organs shutdown.
The treating physician’s decision to prescribe 300 mg of Allopurinol for the client was negligent. The client had severely reduced kidney function and therefore her body was unable to process the Allopurinol at its normal rate. The 300 mg was many times too high dose for a person with client’s then kidney function.
Defendants paid the $500,000 statutory maximum and $400,000 for medical bills for a total settlement of $900,000.