Judge Revises Award in NY VA Hospital Case
Richter increases settlement price in Buffalo VA Medical Center case.
U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny made a revised ruling when he handed out a prize in a malpractice trial against the VA Medical Center in Buffalo that doubled the original amount to nearly $ 4 million. In his most recent decision, Skretny calculated the award for pain and suffering, counting each day for the four months Howard Southard, a U.S. Army veteran, spent in intensive care before his death.
Seeking justice for her brother’s death, Wilma Coolidge received $ 2.1 million in the summer of 2009, which was only 58 days out of the 118 days he was there. The family objected and moved to reschedule or change the verdict.
Skretny said he “originally calculated the award for conscious pain and suffering based on the number of days Southard had pain or discomfort, as noted in his medical tables, and when he was aroused or undergoing surgery under anesthesia.” He also ruled out “days when the medical record indicated he was vigilant and showed no pain”.
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Unsplash
Coolidge said Skretny’s initial decision “did not reflect that her brother could not eat or drink by himself during the entire hospital stay, and did not take into account Southard’s pain from pressure ulcers in the last two months of his life.” She also cited his emotional distress when he was “forced to endure while remaining a prisoner in his own body,” adding that he was “in absolute mental agony at every moment of his 118 days of consciousness, regardless of whether he was or not experiencing physical pain. “
In its decision, Skretny replied: “There are reasons for this court to re-examine its findings regarding the duration of Mr. Southard’s pain and suffering. Substantial justice requires that plaintiff receive full indemnity for her reasonable compensation for Mr. Southard’s pain and suffering in order to avoid manifest injustices. [Coolidge] It is true that during the 60 days he was classified as alert and pain free, Mr. Southard suffered on the medication record and during his final days in palliative care. “
US Assistant Attorney Mary K. Roach said in a written statement to the court on March 4, “The judge rightly refused to accept for the periods 2009, including April 1–24 and April 23–27 . July to grant pain and suffering, as this was not the case with Southard consciously. “
However, Anne B. Rimmler, the family’s attorney, said, “I really appreciate that the judge would take the time and endeavor to see that there was justice.” She added, “He never could stand up. He could never speak, eat, or drink. He was largely isolated. It was a really terrible existence. Apparently he stayed a few days at most and was eventually tied to his bed. He lost over 100 pounds. He withered to nothing … And what often happened when they came in to talk to him and asked him to rate his pain, he was asleep or he was beside himself. “This is due to decreased mental and physical activity.
The judge nearly doubled the misconduct award for a VA patient who was “a prisoner in his own body.”
Sister receives $ 2.1 million for brother’s death after surgery in VA