BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – June 16, 2009 – Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP announced today that a Montgomery County jury has returned a $3.2 million verdict in a wrongful death suit against Baptist Medical Center East that is among the largest in the county’s history.
On June 12, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Kay Davis, who sued for the wrongful death of her mother, Lauree Ellison, who died on November 8, 2005.
The suit alleged that Baptist East negligently failed to follow up on a positive throat culture which grew out Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bacteria. Ellison was examined in the emergency department at Baptist Medical Center East on September 3, 2005, when the throat culture was obtained. Neither the Baptist East emergency physician nor Ellison were notified of the positive results, therefore, she received no treatment for the MRSA bacteria present in her throat.
Ellison was re-admitted to Baptist Medical Center East on November 3, 2005 and was diagnosed as suffering from MRSA Pneumonia – a serious, life-threatening infection. Despite aggressive IV antibiotic treatment, Mrs. Ellison died on November 8, 2005. The Plaintiff claimed that the failure to treat the MRSA bacteria in her mother’s throat was the cause of her subsequent development of the MRSA Pneumonia.
Baptist Medical Center East denied the allegations of negligence and contended that they met the national standard of care with regard to this type of throat culture results. Numerous expert witnesses testified on both sides, and the jury sided with the plaintiff’s expert testimony.
Birmingham-based Hare, Wynn Newell & Newton and Montgomery attorney Jimmy Evans represented the plaintiff in the historic case. Shay Samples, lead counsel with Hare Wynn Newell and Newton, stated that he was pleased with the verdict and thought that the jury had reached a fair and just result.
“The jury’s verdict sends a very clear message that hospitals must follow-up on abnormal test results. Patients put their lives in the hands of the hospital, and there must be accountability when the patient falls between the cracks,” said Samples. “Hopefully, this case will help prevent this type of tragedy from happening again in the future.”