The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the West Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a $1.7 million medical malpractice verdict against a West Virginia physician who blinded a patient during an elective surgical procedure. This is the second article I have seen on this case.
The first article was after the jury rendered its verdict. The interesting thing about the case is that the doctor’s lawyers essentially alleged that the plaintiff was faking his injury. All the articles I have seen have said the same thing. The defendants presented 50 hours of surveillance video from a construction site, but the trial judge found the video showed, “Heckel was disabled, even though the defense omitted footage showing him struggling at such tasks as walking down steps.” You can Google that sentence and you will find it in several articles. But it makes no sense. Did the jury consider the evidence or was it inadmissible? What happened to the omitted footage? Was it destroyed? What was the practical effect of the judge’s ruling? (If anyone knows, let me know.)
But the interesting thing is that that doctor’s lawyers apparently wanted to use the snippets from 50 hours of surveillance that would lead the jury to believe that he might not be blind, but wanted to omit (or delete) the evidence that showed he was blind. It seems like this doctor’s medical malpractice lawyers had a pretty difficult time showing the doctor did not commit medical malpractice, so they took a shot at attacking the plaintiff. This usually backfires, just as it did in this medical malpractice case.
West Virginia Medical Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements
You do not get a ton of reported medical malpractice cases in West Virginia. We updated this post in 2020 and there are just not a lot of cases. The last case we settled in West Virginia, which we settled for millions, was subject to a strict confidentiality clause which I think is the reason why we have so few settlements.
YEAR / STATE
CASE / INJURY SUMMARY
$8,500,000 – Settlement
2011 – West Virginia
An 87-year-old woman died while staying at a nursing home. Before her death, she suffered dehydration, mental status changes, and acute kidney failure. Her family alleged that the nursing home staff’s failure to provide proper care caused her death. They claimed they failed to appreciate her physical and mental declines and prevent her condition from deteriorating further. The Kanawha County jury awarded her family a $91,500,000 verdict.
$91,500,000 – Verdict
2011 – West Virginia
A 43-year-old woman with chest pains came under a contract physician’s care at Wheeling Hospital. She was diagnosed with bronchitis and chest pain of unknown origins. The woman was subsequently discharged. Eleven days later, she was brought to the hospital after going into cardiopulmonary arrest at home. The woman died of a heart attack shortly after being admitted. Her husband alleged that the contract physician and D.O.’s negligence caused her death. He claimed he improperly performed cardiac enzyme testing by performing the second test too soon. The woman’s husband also claimed that the D.O. failed to consult a cardiologist and order a stress test. He argued that a stress test would have revealed significant arterial blockage. The Ohio County jury awarded the widower $4,182,504.
$4,182,504 – Verdict