Case involving above-knee amputation settled $1,400,000 Settlement

$1,400,000 Settlement
Richmond Medical Malpractice Attorneys:
Malcolm P. McConnell, III and Jason W. Konvicka

By Virginia Lawyers Weekly
Published: November 7, 2011

The plaintiff was a 62-year-old woman who sustained a right tibial plateau fracture in a fall. She was admitted to the defendant hospital where she underwent a fracture repair by the defendant surgeon. Overnight, on post-operative day two, the patient developed a compartment syndrome with necrosed tissue. Attempts to debride the dead tissue and salvage the leg failed and approximately two weeks later she underwent above knee amputation.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant surgeon failed to respond properly to a call in the early evening regarding the patient’s complaints of increased pain. The plaintiff also alleged that as the night progressed, the nurse negligently failed to assess the patient and appreciate the developing compartment syndrome. The syndrome was discovered by the defendant surgeon the following morning when he was making his scheduled rounds on his patients. In deposition the overnight nurse claimed that she had contacted the defendant surgeon in the middle of the night concerning the patient, but had been rebuffed by the surgeon. The nurse’s claim was not documented or corroborated and the surgeon denied it.

The plaintiff had retained expert witnesses to testify that the defendant surgeon should have appreciated that the early, undisputed call he received regarding his patient’s increased complaints of pain heralded a change in her condition, to which he should have responded either by coming to see the patient, or by giving specific instructions to the nurse regarding assessments and important findings. The plaintiff also had retained expert witnesses to say that the overnight nurse failed in her duty to properly assess the patient, to document those assessments and to report changes to the surgeon. Finally, the plaintiff had retained expert witnesses to testify that compartment syndrome is a slowly developing catastrophe and that with reasonable care, it could not have progressed as it did without detection and intervention, which would have salvaged the leg.

The total economic loss claimed by the plaintiff ranged from $1,397,005 to $2,201,188. The applicable “cap” was $1,850,000. The case settled prior to expert designations. However, for settlement purposes, the plaintiff disclosed life care planner Susan Riddick-Grisham.

The defendants denied liability but agreed to mediation. The case was mediated by John OBrion.


Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Above-knee amputation
Name of case: Confidential
Tried before: Mediation
Mediator: John OBrion
Plaintiff’s expert: Susan Riddick-Grisham RN, BA, CCM, CLCP, life care planner

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