Tom Trammell had lower back surgery in 2005 resulting in a traumatizing injury to the cauda equina, a nerve structure within the lower end of the spinal column. The injury was left untreated by the physician and, as a result, Tom Trammell suffered motor and sensory disorders affecting the lower extremities.
On Friday, March 4, 2011, a jury in Jefferson County Circuit Court awarded $2.15 million to Trammell and his wife in this medical malpractice case. The suit was filed against Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw, who performed the surgery at Baptist Montclair Hospital.
Hare Wynn attorney Shay Samples was lead counsel on behalf of the plaintiffs. The expert medical witness for the plaintiffs was Huntsville neurosurgeon Dr. Rob Hash who provided testimony regarding the improper nature of the original surgery and the resulting misdiagnosed complications. Dr. Hash testified that the original surgery was performed improperly and that ensuing complications were misdiagnosed. He collected no money for his expert testimony, requesting that his professional fees be donated to charity.
As quoted in The Birmingham News, Samples stated, “Mr. Trammell’s post-operative condition was a surgical emergency of the highest magnitude. All of that time, blood flow was constricted to those crucial nerves, and they were in effect, dying.”
This is the second positive jury verdict in Jefferson County in the last 30 days for Samples and the Hare Wynn team. In February, Samples won a $3 million verdict on behalf of the family of Laboyish “Wayne” Catlin. Catlin was admitted to Baptist Princeton Hospital on Christmas Day in 2005. Mr. Catlin was diagnosed with a bleeding duodenal ulcer and surgery was performed on the 37-year old. Following the surgery, he required several blood transfusions and died several days after being released as a result of “exsanguination in the artery” which is the fatal process of total hypovolemia or blood loss.
The jury verdicts in a medical malpractice case for these Hare Wynn clients is highly unusual since physicians and their med mal insurers routinely win more than 90% of the suits filed against them.
“We have just been very fortunate to have jury members in these two trials that have been totally fair, objective and attentive,” says Samples. “The juries exhibited the courage to hold a physician accountable for substandard care and in so doing have helped boost the public’s confidence that they will receive quality medical care in the future.”
Samples also believes, “Dr. Hash’s testimony was incredibly compelling and the fact that he, as an Alabama-based physician, was willing to serve as an expert medical witness in a case against an in-state colleague is just unprecedented.”
The Trammell trial lasted for five days and ended with the jury deliberating for three hours before awarding Trammell $1.65 million and his wife $500,000.