California Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $7.6M Verdict in Sacramento County

A California woman who was left paralyzed from the neck down due to an untreated spinal cord problem has won $7.6 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The complaint was filed against University of California Davis Medical Center, alleging that the hospital’s failure to diagnose a mass on her spine resulted in her paralysis.

The woman went to the hospital in 2003, when she was 14 years old, due to weakness in the legs. The hospital performed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that revealed an abnormal mass on her thoracic spine, but the radiology department allegedly reported that her spine looked normal. The lawsuit claims the hospital misdiagnosed her problem as the symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome.

Four years later, the mass bled and caused the woman to suffer permanent spinal damage in February 2008. At the age of 18, she was a paraplegic who could not move from the chest down. As a result, she will require care for the rest of her life.

A Sacramento county jury has awarded $7.6 million in damages, which is believed to be one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Sacramento County history, according to a press release issued by the law firm representing the plaintiff.

The award included $6,424,318 for lost wages and life-long medical expenses and $1.2 million for pain and suffering. The pain and suffering award is expected to be reduced to $250,000 due to a California medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages.

During the trial, hospital officials said that the mass was subtle and that missing it was not a violation of the expected standards of care. However, experts for the plaintiff argued that the mass should not have been missed.

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