Medical Malpractice Lawyer Salt Lake City
PREMISES LIABILITY – INJURIES ON BUSINESS LOCATIONS
1. This civil case was against the new ‘local’ national sporting goods store. It involved a 5-year-old accessing the lower part of the ‘up’ escalator in such a manner as he could use it as another attraction and a ‘ride’. He was carried up the outside of the escalator and dropped over 20’ sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury.
His young life was changed forever. Mr. Harris established with several experts that he will need help/accommodations in all aspects of his life, schooling and living arrangements. Further that he will never be employed in the ‘competitive workforce’ and have a total loss of earnings over his normal lifespan.
This new business location installed and designed what is known as an ‘atrium design’ of open and unenclosed escalators to access the second floor of merchandise and business exhibits. This design left one side of the moving escalator accessible to young children – as they could either climb up the outside of the moving escalator or simply reach over and grab the moving handrail to be traveled upward while hanging on to the outside of the escalator.
This was an obvious safety hazard as installed by the ‘local’ national sporting goods store. Despite this being a well-known type of problem with young business guests in the overall design and escalator industry business – the architect, the contractor and the owner none-the-less installed and operated this atrium type of set up and design.
Almost immediately upon opening of the store and specifically inviting young families and their children to enter and experience the store’s Ferris wheel, bowling alley, animated presidents speaking displays, a video style firing range and a fudge store – children began to access and ‘ride’ the up escalator.
After filing the case and beginning to question employees – specifically managers and safety assigned employees – it was discovered that ‘dozens’ of young children had accessed this area for a ‘ride’ up the outside of the escalator. Further, it was well known that many of the children were known to have fallen and some even required first aid type medical attention by a trained EMT on staff.
Mr. Harris retained national safety experts to prepare reports that outlined how easily all of this easy access and potential for injury could be fully avoided. It was well established that all the business had to do was place a simple type of barrier – a shelf or cabinet – to foreclose any and all access to young children.
After he discovered this long history of ‘dozens’’ of children riding this un-official ride and falling and being injured – all of this history well known to the management of the large business – he amended his initial allegations to assert that this business was guilty of a ‘knowing and reckless disregard for the life and safety of young children’ who they had specifically invited and targeted to come onto their business premises.
This case was hotly contested by the business owner and only resolved a couple of weeks before trial by a mediation proceeding. The result was reasonable and acceptable to the clients.
Within a very short time after the case was resolved and the lawsuit was over Mr. Harris visited the large store to witness the installation of the simple type of modifications suggested by our safety experts. It is understood that all of the sporting goods store’s similar hazardous locations in over 25 national stores have also been remedied and corrected to prevent future catastrophic injuries to young children.
2. Bruce and Jane were two 84 year-olds traveling from Seattle to Denver to visit grandchildren. Jane was wheelchair bound and Bruce was her caregiver. They loved to overnight at a local large Hotel chain. On this day the maintenance crew had blocked off all wheelchair access into the hotel from the parking area. Bruce was pushing Jane's chair and was directed into the automobile driveway to access the front door area. This driveway was slanted, potholed and was basically a 'maze' to negotiate.
The chair’s front wheels dropped into a concealed hole/ridge and tipped causing Jane to be thrown out of her wheelchair and to be forcefully land on her husband who was trying to stop her fall out of the wheelchair. The impact of the fall on her husband resulted in him fracturing his femur/hip.
911 came and sent both to the local ER. Bruce underwent emergency hip surgery and was sent to a local rehab for several weeks. While in rehabilitation from his surgery, he thereafter developed bedsores that required extensive wound care costing over $200,000.00.
Mr. Harris filed a civil action against the large hotel chain here in Utah and retained all of the local health care providers, as well as all of the medical experts in their home location of Seattle. After filing and the depositions of the couple, the hotel chain agreed to attend a mediation/settlement conference using a Utah mediator. He resolved for this elderly couple’s case in the mid-hundreds of thousands.
He had several safety experts note numerous ADA [Americans with Disability Act] and ANSI [national safety standards] and other local community safety violations. All applicable standards require a business to provide safe entry and exit 100% of the time that the business is open and inviting customers and guests.
In addition to the national safety standards, he was able to obtain the Company’s own policies and procedures and safety experts were able to explain that the Hotel Company had violated many of their own existing safety standards when they chose to block all access into the lobby of the hotel and redirect their invited guests into a dangerous driveway to enter the hotel. Mr. Harris believes this civil case resulted in improved safety and maintenance procedures nation-wide.
Another local PI firm turned the case down and a former happy client at the local rehab center referred the couple to our office.
PREMISES LIABILITY – FALLS AND INJURIES AT NON-EMPLOYER BUSINESS SITES WHILE WORKING FOR ONE’S OWN EMPLOYER
3. Deborah seriously injured her back while at work. This injury occurred while she was at work in her own business – but was injured due to the negligence and fault of a third party business owner. As we alleged that the negligence was from a 3rd party - not her employer or a co-employee - Mr. Harris was not prevented from filing an injury action by the existing workman’s compensation laws and statutes - he filed the case in a Southern Utah Court.
Deborah was involved in a business that delivered large and very heavy oxygen tanks to local industrial plants and business all over Southern Utah. One of her business largest clients called and ordered several replacement oxygen tanks to be delivered. The history between the parties was that upon arrival at the business site, the local plant would send out their employees to unload the large and awkward oxygen tanks in a site and location selected by the plant management.
During this delivery and while unloading the tanks, one of the plants' employees lost control of one of the tanks causing it to fall and dislodge several other large tanks. This emergency event caused Deborah to have to try to catch the tanks and avoid being crushed by their weight.
When it was all over, Deborah had sustained a very serious lower back set of fractures that required back surgery at the local University. Following the surgery to stabilize her back, her overall level of physical function decreased significantly, and she developed a very aggressive complex pain syndrome. She was unable to return to any level of physical work. She also had difficulty in being retrained/educated into a new vocation as she was in constant pain that limited her cognitive abilities.
This was a 2-year hotly contested legal battle and required two mediations and the case resolved for a reasonable sum acceptable to Deborah.
Mr. Harris retained a safety expert and 3 local treating MDs as his experts. He also had to retain a life care planner, a vocational expert and an economist to fully present her case for a trial and to the mediator. As in almost all civil cases, the Defense/insurance company retained a local MD who unsuccessfully tried to castigate Deborah and diminish her symptoms.
PREMISES LIABILITY VERSUS THE STATE OF UTAH TWO SIMILAR CASES AGAINST THE STATE
4A. Brenden was 14 and on an LDS mutual activity at the Provo Utah State Hospital's 'rope-rehab course. The state employee course workers and manager raised him 40’ feet off the ground to have a giant ‘swing experience.’ The problem was that the lead State employee switched the 'carabineers' on the ride’s harness attachment - and upon his 'release' – he did not swing but he immediately fell all 40’ feet to the ground and landed on this head and back.
Obviously, he suffered significant and life-threatening back, head and brain injuries. Mr. Harris took the case and proceeded against the State of Utah – who had a statutory fixed cap of $625,000. He was told by the local assigned assistant attorney general that the State’s risk managers/adjusters ‘never’ paid the fully ‘cap’ amount. He thereafter filed the case under the applicable statutes and began negotiations with the State.
He retained the necessary experts to force the State to tender the full cap amount. These experts involved a rehab physician, a neuropsychologist, a nursing life care expense expert and finally, an economist to set out the extent of the overall damages far exceed the low statutory cap and was in fact in the millions of dollars.
Mr. Harris was successful in forcing the State risk managers/adjusters to tender the full amount allowed under the state statutes.
4B. Monica was a single mother of an 8-year-old daughter who was driving on a local road in Utah County taking her child to school. While driving the speed limit of 45 mph and entering the Spanish Fork area, a local school district bus pulled out into her path and T-boned her small passenger vehicle. The collision was dramatic and violent. Monica was pinned inside the vehicle and had to be extricated using the ‘jaws of life’ to be transported to the local ER and trauma center. Amazingly, her child was unharmed belted in the back seat.
Monica suffered numerous and severe injuries of facial fractures and a traumatic brain injury. She underwent numerous surgeries and extensive rehabilitation therapy. After all, was said and done, Monica was unable to fully function as an adult mother or as an experienced law enforcement employee.
In the same process as with Brenden’s case, Mr. Harris provided the State with overwhelming evidence that the State should and must tender the statutory limits to Monica.
Knowing that these minimal statutory amounts of compensation were far from enough to adequately compensate Brenden and Monica, he thereafter filed a second set of actions as against the State of Utah. Using a rarely cited State statute, he filed two claims with what is known in the law as the ‘Board of Examiners’. This Board consists of the Governor, the Attorney General and the State Auditor. After three years of persistence to the Board, he received a ruling by the Board that both Brenden and Monica were indeed entitled to additional sums of compensation from the State.
The next step in this process was to retain a group of experienced lobbyists to present our two claims to the State Legislature to actually determine the sum of additional compensation and fund the additional awards. This too was an expensive and time-consuming process over the recent 2018 legislative session. However, with the prior expert reports, the Boards positive ruling and the hard work of the lobbyists and all involved Mr. Harris was successful in obtaining a very significant additional settlement for each of his clients.
No other law firms had made similar successful claims as against the State using the Board of Governors Statute over the past 10+ years.
BUSINESS LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER VEHICLE INSPECTION
5. The case involved a large dump truck – fully loaded with dirt and weighing over 55,000 pounds – losing its brakes and careening down an 8-10% grade in the foothills of Bountiful. Mr. Harris represented the driver who took ‘heroic’ driving actions – leaving the road and rolling the truck in an open parking lot at the foot of the hill – to avoid entering an office building or entering busy highway 89 and a busy ‘roundabout’ at the base of the hill. The hero/client sustained multiple injuries in this rollover incident.
The negligence case concerned the fact that a local SLC truck inspection station had the very day before this wild set of circumstances fully inspected and ‘passed’ the truck as meeting all safety standards - and had issued a certificate that the truck's brakes were fully inspected and fully functional.
Following the rollover, the UHP inspected the truck and determined that almost 50% of the brakes were inoperable! Thus the case involved negligence of the client’s truck owner employer but focused on the reliance of the driver and the truck owner on the bogus safety inspection. It was a very difficult case that ended with an excellent result.
In order to win this civil case, Mr. Harris had to retain national truck/brake experts on the issues of driving and on brake maintenance. The two local UHP troopers both agreed to be experts on brake inspection procedures and the actions taken by the State to suspend the actual negligent truck and brake inspector and his employer.
Mr. Harris also retained the necessary medical and damage experts to fully document the nature and extent of Jeff’s injuries and their overall impact on his level of function in the future and his lack of ever being employed again due to his pain levels and overall dysfunction.
This was a hotly contested case that was not resolved until 1 week before trial with a mediation proceeding and the help of a very experienced mediator.
PREMISES LIABILITY – ASSAULTED AND KIDNAPPED FROM A BUSINESS LOCATION
6. Mr. Harris recently finished a case against a Wendover Casino. The client was a resident of Wendover who went to a local casino after working the graveyard shift as a dealer in another nearby casino. She was only there to ‘wind down’ a few minutes and when exiting the casino she was kidnapped, assaulted and was shot in the head. This is the 2nd half of the crime spree that began with the murder of two elderly Mt. Pleasant residents – that was in the local Utah news.
The case involved claims that the casino was negligent in its levels of safety and security and surveillance within their casino operations.
Nevada case law and statutes place a very strict duty on a casino to protect their patrons from harm – including inside and outside the casino in the parking areas. The Nevada Supreme Court has held that a casino is basically a hot-bed for criminal activity including robbery and assaults. Think about it – other than a local bank, where else are people leaving an establishment with cash in their pockets – it’s like a ‘human ATM’ machine.
Mr. Harris ended with proving that this casino did not have the necessary security on staff or outside camera surveillance staff/polices in effect to deter this type of crime. He was able to prove that this local casino was the ‘easiest target’ in all 5 Wendover casinos and that it was not just by chance that this is the casino chosen by the 2 criminals to assault, kidnap and eventually shoot the client in the head.
The client shortly after being kidnapped in her own vehicle was able to fight off the female criminal, and thereafter to begin to drive her own car away to escape – however, this is when the second criminal arrived on the scene and took out a .357 pistol and shot her – through the door pillar/window – into the back of her head. Amazingly, she was able to drive to the PD department in Wendover. She was emergently taken to University of Utah for treatment of a TBI-- and after years of treatment is still coping with the significant permanent aspects of her injury.
This case belongs on ’48 Hours’, but was actually featured on the Oxygen Channel show “Snapped”.
In order to finally win this case before a scheduled trial and by a mediation settlement meeting, Mr. Harris retained nationally recognized safety, security, surveillance and casino operations experts. They all reviewed the facts of the case and the facts of the failures of this new casino to follow basic and mandatory security procedures to protect the very people they invite to gamble and enjoy a ‘casino experience’.
To establish the nature and extent of her injuries we retained a nationally known neurologist and neuropsychologist to outline her brain injury. In addition, Mr. Harris had vocational experts, a life care planner, and an economist to establish the monetary damages for future medical care and loss of the ability to be employed.
PREMISES LIABILITY – SERIOUS INJURY AT A WORKPLACE
7. The next client sustained a serious back injury- who was literally ‘blown off’ the top of his flatbed semi-truckload of gypsum in Sevier County plant. George was a long time large rig-flatbed truck driver. He had been to this same southern Utah gypsum plant to pick up and deliver a full flatbed load of gypsum bags to California.
Despite numerous prior complaints and injury incidents the plant had refused to build or install any type of safety set-ups to allow the flatbed driver to safety ‘tarp’ the load of gypsum bags. After the plant employees loaded the pallets of bags on the flatbed, the plant mandated that the driver place large heavy tarps over the entire length of the flatbed load. This placed the driver over 10’ feet off the ground and walking on the tops of pallets of uneven gypsum bags. In addition, this location is well known to be a very windy area with occasional gusts of wind of 25mph.
Mr. Harris was able to prove that the owner of the facility had a duty to provide a safe method and location to allow the drivers to ‘tarp’ their loads to protect the bags of gypsum from weather-related damage.
This case involved a truck driver with over 20 years of experience and following this injury was unable to return to any gainful employment – in any capacity. We were able to prove that the local plant was making over $40,000 per truckload – with hundreds of loads each week – and that to build or install a safe facility/method to protect drivers would cost under $15,000.00.
To prevail in this civil matter, Mr. Harris had to first retain the services of safety experts on industrial ‘fall’ injuries and general safety mandated policies and procedures for an industrial site. In addition, he retained a rehabilitation physician, a life care planner to establish future medical needs, a vocational expert on his inability to ever return to any type of gainful employment and finally an economist to set the limit of money damages.
Mr. Harris was able to resolve this matter via a mediation and settlement meeting and to provide an income for this 56 year old and his wife.
PREMISES LIABILITY – OPERATION OF AN AMTRAK TRAIN
8. Mr. Harris next represented a client for injuries sustained as an Amtrak train passenger. He negotiated this with the Amtrak claims folks in Washington D.C.
The client was on the train from Florida to Utah – due to the fact that her husband is terrified of flying – and while accessing a short set of steps on a train car – the violent nature of the ride threw her to the floor causing a significant brain bleed and a corresponding TBI.
The good news for his CPA client was that the bleed resolved and she was able to return part-time to doing her existing tax return preparation business. Mr. Harris once again had a high-quality set of damage experts to outline her injuries and her course of treatment over the 1 year from the injury incident. He was able to get a ‘6-figure’ settlement from Amtrak.
PREMISES LIABILITY – FALL IN A SUPERMARKET LAYOUT
9A The next case was in the area of a ‘slip and fall’ case. These cases can be difficult, however, Mr. Harris was able to obtain another significant settlement as against a fuel station at a local grocery store that is part of a national chain.
The client sustained a TBI and a broken hand. She was a practicing hospice nurse at the time of injury. She has not been able to return to any sustained employment due to her concussion/tbi symptoms. At the time of the incident, she was the sole wage earner of her family of 5 – as her husband was on SSD with a significant health problem.
The facts of the case involved an inch and a half deep by five-foot long ledge created between two slabs of concrete in the walking area of the fueling station next to the pumps. She exited her vehicle and stumbled over this unmarked ledge and fell hitting her arm/hand and head. Mr. Harris was able to discover that this hazard had been in existence for over 7 months. It had been reported by prior customers who had fallen and tripped on the ledge. The Store had actually sent out an inspector who supposedly arranged to fix the ledge or replace the bad concrete section. Somehow the work order was lost and for 7-months no one fixed the problem – until after his client’s fall and injuries.
Mr. Harris had both a negligence action and the Court had allowed an amended complaint to seek punitive damages for the Store’s ‘reckless indifference’ to a known hazard to their business invitees.
To prevail on this case he had to retain medical and damage experts to provide reports and testimony concerning the overall effect this had on our client’s ability to function as a newly established RN, a wife and mother of 3.
9B. In a similar case against the same national grocer, Mr. Harris' client was an 80-year-old widow who was shopping with her daughter for her weekly groceries. At the time of her injury, she was living alone and mostly independent and very healthy for her age.
The grocery store had recently added ‘fuel stop’ as part of their business. To advertise this new fuel service they placed a large and heavy metal sign at the entrance to their local store. The sign was built with large legs that supported the heavy metal sign and protruded out from the dimensions of the metal sign. As the 80-year-old client was exiting the premises out the main entrance/exit – her foot caught on the extended legs of the sign – and down she went. She sustained a head injury and other significant injuries to her arms and legs. She was hospitalized for a significant time and when she returned home – she could no longer be fully independent.
Mr. Harris retained safety experts to establish that there are national, State and local safety statutes and ordinances to prevent such an obvious safety hazard. He also retained the treating physicians and care providers to establish the nature and extent of her injuries and how her life and needs had suddenly changed for the worse.
After significant legal proceedings, Mr. Harris was able to hold a mediation hearing to get this matter resolved.
9C. In another similar case, a 66-year-old retired woman living near a large grocery chain store entered the store in the late evening to purchase a few items. She was in the frozen food/refrigerated area of the store shopping for her favorite brand of yogurt. At this same time, a grocery worker was stocking this area of the store with new product taken from numerous cardboard boxes.
After she had arrived at the yogurt location, the grocery employee came up from behind her and began to toss cardboard boxes along the area he was re-stocking. Several of the boxes landed directly behind the shopper. When she turned to leave the area with her yogurt she tripped over the boxes and landed violently on her right arm, right shoulder and head and face.
911 was called and she was transported to the local hospital and underwent surgery on her broken arm and received extensive treatment for her shoulder, head, and facial injuries. She was hospitalized for a significant time and when she returned home – she could no longer be fully independent living alone and had to be moved to an adult living center.
As before, once again Mr. Harris retained safety experts to establish that there are national, State and local safety statutes and ordinances to prevent such an obvious safety hazard. He also retained the treating physicians and care providers to establish the nature and extent of her injuries and how her life and needs had suddenly changed for the worse.
Mr. Harris was able to schedule a successful settlement mediation proceeding to fully resolve this case – and to hopefully force the large grocery chain to stop this unsafe practice of tossing boxes around an existing shopping area with active shoppers in the store.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ON A 7-YEAR-OLD
10. Mr. Harris next worked on a medical malpractice case out of Wyoming. A local radiologist missed an obvious brain tumor in a CT taken following a schoolyard fall. 7 years later the tumor had grown to the point of almost killing the 13-year-old. Emergent near-surgery at a local children’s hospital saved the child’s life – but left him with a significant long-term traumatic brain injury that will require significant medical help and accommodations for the remainder of his life.
Mr. Harris had to file a formal civil action as against the local small Jackson hospital and the radiologist who ran their radiological department and missed the early tumor.
To prevail in this tragic case he had to provide expert opinions on radiological standards and retain a medical doctor to explain that the early tumor was clearly evident in the early CT scan. In addition, he had to retain medical experts to explain the medical consequences of letting a small tumor grow to the size of a lemon and require emergent surgery to remove the longstanding tumor. In addition, Mr. Harris had to provide expert opinions on the overall effect of the damage done by the larger tumor and belated surgery removal. In addition, several damage experts were retained to provide the basis of the future medical needs and lack of ability to ever be fully functional or employable.
Mr. Harris mediated the matter in Jackson and was able to obtain a significant and reasonable settlement. The main problem in the case was filing the action against the only local radiologist in a community of only 20,000 residents. Medical Malpractice cases are difficult and especially in small ‘protective’ towns.
11. The next settlement is a ‘grizzly’ one to explain. Mr. Harris represented a 44-year old woman who had suffered for years with post-childbirth ‘hemorrhoids’. She decided to ‘google’ the issue and was referred to a group of gastroenterologists in Utah for treatment. She underwent what was advertised as a ‘pain-free’ procedure to place a rubber band over the troublesome area and thereafter kill off the hemorrhoid. Easy, quick and painless – so she was told.
This young MD – who had just recently learned the procedure – made several significant mistakes in the placement and depth of the tissue ‘killed off’ resulting in 30 days of extreme pain. Despite numerous office visits, the MD ignored the signs of trouble and infection until finally she was referred to a local Hospital’s colon-rectal surgeon.
The surgeon found a golf ball sized infection that had penetrated the walls of both the rectum and the vagina of our client. The only method to clear the infection was to perform an ileostomy. In plain English – She had a surgically placed ‘bag’ for her waste to collect in – to allow the 2 fistula’s [places of infection] to heal. She wore this ‘poop bag’ for 18 months! Finally, the infection healed allowing the walls to heal and a surgery was performed to fix the holes and remove the bag and allow normal bowel movements.
This was a hotly contested case and required significant legal discovery procedures to finally fully establish exactly what occurred to her initially and over time. Mr. Harris had to retain nationally known experts on the treatment of this condition and the proper response to the grave signs ignored by the young and new medical doctor.
He held a mediation before any trial and was able to obtain a significant and reasonable settlement.
NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE AND WRONGFUL DEATH
12. Don Paul age 87 was in good health and active enough to seek a knee replacement surgery. All went well until he was sent to a local rehab center following his successful surgery. The nursing home/rehabilitation facility failed to monitor his prior low-level diabetes during his stay in the facility.
Over Don’s 12-day stay in the nursing home/rehab facility, he steadily declined both medically and cognitively. Despite numerous reports by the family to the RNs of his significant change in cognition and overall well-being – the nurses and physician failed to correct the problem and failed to refer the patient to other medical specialists to address and resolve his ongoing grave medical issues.
At the end of the 12 days, Don progressed to a full ‘code blue’ type cardiac arrest and suffered an irreversible brain injury. Only after his crash into cardiac arrest did the facility finally call 911 and transfer Don to the local University-based medical center. Don succumbed to his grave medical condition and passed away 25 days later.
Mr. Harris filed a civil action against the rehab facility and its nurses and administration. The facility forced Mr. Harris to join the on-call facility internal medicine MD. After a lot of work and patience, he mediated the case for the 5 surviving adult children. He resolved the case in the low hundreds of thousands.
As part of his case presentation, Mr. Harris retained a very experienced nurse who had a long history in working in a similar facility and later managing a chain of rehab center nationwide.
Mr. Harris believes that this rehab facility and all of its various locations will work to prevent this type of tragedy in the future.
13. A local family was forced to make the difficult decision to move their 84-year-old mother from her home into a nursing home facility. They carefully chose a long-standing local facility after interviewing the administrators and after the facility agreed to some very stringent demands of the family.
The family was worried that there were times when their mother became disoriented and would and could be lost. Thus, they entered into an agreement with the home that all times their mother would be accompanied from her room to all meals and all activities – and also would be accompanied back to her room following meals and activities.
Their mother was placed on the first floor to allow for constant observation. One evening their mother was taken to the basement for a movie night. After the movie was over she was placed in the elevator and left unattended to return to her room. She went up to the second floor, became disoriented and attempted to use the stairwell – with her walker – to descend to the first floor.
While attempting – unattended – to walk the stairs she fell and sustained serious and life-threatening injuries – including a broken neck. After a long time had passed in the evening she was finally found in the enclosed stairwell – 911 was called and she was transported to the local hospital. She died from her injuries several weeks after her fall and while in the hospital.
As part 0f the case presentation Mr. Harris retained a very experienced nurse who had a long history in working in a similar facility and later managing a chain of rehab center nationwide to establish that this facility was negligent and careless concerning their 84-year-old resident.
Mr. Harris filed a civil action against the rehab facility and its nurses and administration. After a lot of work and patience, he mediated the case for the surviving adult children. He resolved the case in an acceptable manner for the family.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND WRONGFUL DEATH
14. Steven was a 64-year old retired grandfather, husband, and father of a 17-year-old son still living at home. Steven reported to his local family MD with a several day history of shortness of breath and other associated flu-like symptoms. The clinic took his pulse oxygen level and it was noted to be in the ‘80's’ - with ‘90’ known to be a 911-type of a situation is noted in a hospital inpatient setting. Rather than refer and admit Steven, the MD and his clinic simply sent him home with a prescription for home health provided Oxygen.
Steven was dead in 22 hours.
Mr. Harris had a Stanford University MD and an Oregon University MD both render expert medical opinions that this was when he reported to the local family clinic, this was indeed 911/emergency medical situation - and that had he been admitted immediately to a local ER or hospital – that Steven would be alive today.
Mr. Harris held a mediation and got the case settled in the mid-low 6 figures.
That case was referred in by local attorney and who helped with the 7 adult children and the 5-year marriage spouse. He got a cut of the fees.
15. Debra was a 30-year old wife and mother of a 4-year old. She had given a normal childbirth and had been in the 'stirrups' for a prior D & C for a failed pregnancy. She was once again admitted for a D & C for an ongoing second miscarriage. Once again, she was placed in the OBGYN stirrups to perform this medical procedure.
On admittance to the hospital and operating room, she was fully functional and walked into the hospital for this routine medical procedure. At this time in her life, she was in training for a half marathon - and was otherwise 100% healthy and ambulatory.
On awaking from anesthesia, she couldn't feel her legs and had to be helped/lifted out of the hospital wheelchair into her car to travel to her home. While at home her leg weakness persisted overnight and when she called the hospital she was told that it was probably just the anesthesia taking a long time to ‘wear off’’ and that they were sure that her symptoms would resolve over time.
She elected to reject this hospitals advice and she was thereafter tested and diagnosed with bilateral sciatic nerve injuries in her legs causing significant ambulatory dysfunction leading to being forced to live out of a wheelchair. In addition, she thereafter developed a chronic pain syndrome over and above her disability to her legs and leg function.
Mr. Harris retained a nationally recognized Stanford neurologist to see Debra and determine the cause of her sciatic nerve injury and ongoing medical complications. He came to the opinion that was consistent with the local treating physicians - that the OR nurses had 'overstretched' Debra while asleep and caused permanent sciatic nerve damage and the associated significantly diminished leg function and persistent pain.
The Stanford neurologist recommended that she be referred to the University of Utah Pain Clinic for treatment and to determine if she could be helped with her new and severe set of symptoms.
The local hospital chain’s management put up a nasty and contested fight over this case and we had to get fully ready for trial. Mr. Harris underwent two mediations - a year and thousands of dollars apart - and finally got the case resolved for a very fair and reasonable sum.
Mr. Harris believes that this case will mandate a full review and teaching in all of the hospital’s chain ongoing nursing continuing nursing education for OR nursing and how to avoid this specific and well-known type of serious injury.
16. Lynn was a 52-year-old fully-functional coal miner here in Utah. He began to have carpal tunnel wrist pain and discomfort and turned to his local physician for diagnosis and treatment. The local physician had his wrists tested and it was determined and diagnosed with dual right and left wrist carpal tunnel syndrome. The physician next scheduled to perform the dual wrist operations in the local hospital.
All went well with the left wrist and he did not have any postoperative issues with that wrist. However, he immediately felt significant pain postoperatively in his right wrist. The local physician sent him to PT and told him that his pain would decrease and that all would be well with his right wrist. The symptoms continued and finally, the local physician referred his patient to a nearby orthopedic surgeon for diagnosis and treatment.
The orthopedic surgeon immediately suspected that the median nerve in the right wrist had been injured in the prior carpal tunnel procedure. He immediately did an exploratory operation and found that the median nerve had been completely severed! The orthopedic physician than did his best to re-connect the two severed ends of the median nerve as the only possible salvage procedure to save his wrist, hand, and arm function. Following the operation and repair, the coal miner underwent extensive hand physical therapy to attempt to regain some limited level of function in his hand and arm.
Despite the heroic efforts to reconnect the severed nerve and physical therapy over a year’s time – it was determined that he would never regain enough function to ever be gainfully employed in any level of physical labor – and that he would never return to finish his career as a long time coal miner.
Mr. Harris retained several nationally known experts to speak to the errors made in the surgery that culminated with a fully severed median nerve and to speak to the issue of physical impairment and disability to the injured coal miner.
After he filed the case and provided the medical malpractice carrier with his expert reports – he was able to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of our injured client.
SEMI- TRUCK COLLISION NEGLIGENCE CASE
17. The next case Mr. Harris resolved for $1.4M involved a violent semi-truck collision with a U-Haul van being driven by our client’s father. Our client was in a ‘car-seat’ at the time of the 66 mph collision and sustained a significant TBI and neck injury. The U-Haul van was traveling up the I-15 hill near Cedar City when the semi-literally rear-ended and entered the ‘box ‘portion of the U-Haul van.
Injuries were sustained by both the adult/father driver as well as his 2-year-old son belted in a car seat sitting next to his father in the U-Haul cab.
Several years before this case, Mr. Harris had resolved the case for the father/driver as against the same set of Defendants. He had to wait for the 2-year-old injured son to mature to the point that he could make a determination on his scope of damages.
By the time the cases were filed the main defendants had gone bankrupt and thus Mr. Harris was primarily pursuing the applicable trucking insurance in effect at the time of the collision. He had to get permission from the Tennessee Bankruptcy Court to proceed with the civil injury lawsuits.
The case was very strong from a negligence standpoint. The fight was over the extent of damages to this 2 year old and his father. Mr. Harris was able to prove with a number of high-quality damage witnesses from several specialties – that young Caleb would need life-long help and accommodations in all aspects of his life, schooling and that he would not live independently as an adult. The father had similar damages and became less functional as a parent and a D.O. physician.
In order to prevail in this case, Mr. Harris retained semi-big rig driving experts as well as a trucking company training and business expert. Each of the injured clients had their own set of medical and damage specialists.
Both cases required a formal civil filing with significant work done on all aspects of the cases – before Mr. Harris was able to resolve both cases via a mediation proceeding.
18. A wild multi-car and multi semi-truck injury case were recently resolved on behalf of a 54-year-old nurse arising from a series of collisions on the Green River Bridge of I-70 in Utah. Within this series of collisions - involving 8 vehicles – the nurse who was a passenger in her sister’s pick-up truck – sustained 8 separate violent impacts to her body and primarily to her lower legs and hip area.
She was transported to the nearest hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado where she underwent multiple surgeries on her hip and lower legs and ankles. She was in the hospital or rehabilitation hospital for weeks – until she could return home in the Deep South. She incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. She was deemed not physically able to return to any level of nursing or other gainful employment. Her injuries were devastating.
In order to literally ‘unwind’ this series of consecutive violent collisions, Mr. Harris retained several highly qualified experts in the fields of collision reconstruction and engineering, semi-truck driving, biomechanical engineering, and rehabilitation medicine. As there were multiple impacts by autos, pickups and 3 fast moving semi-tractors and trailers – there had to be expert opinions on each and every one of the 8 impacts and their individual relationship to each of the injured nurse’s individual injuries.
The case involved multiple defendants each with their own set of lawyers who were ‘finger-pointing’ fault as to all of the other defendants. There were multiple depositions taken to establish the role of each vehicle and each driver in causing the nurse’s injuries.
The case was filed in the local Federal Court and was set for pre-trial hearings at the time of a series of mediation proceedings and settlement conferences that finally resolved this tragic and complicated matter within 8 separate settlement agreements.
AUTO COLLISION CASE INVOLVING A CLAIM VERSUS ONES OWN INSURANCE COMPANY
19. Tony brought his file to Mr. Harris after another local injury law firm had the case for a year and finally said it was too difficult and would not proceed any further.
The basic case was a ‘failure to yield’ and a ‘T-bone’ type of auto collision. The case was very straightforward from a fault or negligence action as against an insured driver.
However, the challenge with the case had to do with Tony’s very significant prior medical history. While the case was indeed complicated, all it took was finding the right type of experts to fully explain and delineate what medical conditions “pre-existed” the collision and what new or worsened medical problems were caused by the violent collision.
Mr. Harris was able to meet with the local neuro-surgery expert and current medical creators who drafted a letter separating out the past historical issues new from the collision based injuries.
At the end of the case, he received the full policy limits from the wrongdoer's insurance company in the sum of $100,000.00 and an additional $100,000 from his Tony’s UIM policy [underinsured insurance provisions from Tony’s own auto policy].
REAR END AUTO COLLISION – CLAIMS INVOLVING ONE’S OWN AUTO POLICY
20. Cathy of Logan was in a rear-end collision. Her husband is a local banker her referred her to two local PI firms. They told her that her case wasn't worth any more than $12,000.
Mr. Harris thereafter was contacted and took over the case. He met with her two local IHC physicians who agreed to be experts and draft letters fully explaining all of her injuries from these collisions. Using those local physician opinions he was able to develop a several hundred thousand dollar life care plan with additional experts.
He was able to force State Farm to pay the full $100,000 liability limits. Thereafter, he was able to collect the full $100,000 UIM [underinsured policy limits of her own auto policy] limits as well.
21. Lisa, age 44 - was involved as a passenger in the family Jeep Wrangler in a rear-end collision with a local parts delivery vehicle. The collision was fully investigated using accident reconstruction experts, a biomechanical expert and a physician specializing in rehabilitation following injury.
911 was called and she was transported to the local ER for diagnosis and treatment. Over the course of the next year, she underwent a significant neck repair surgery, a shoulder surgery and continued on with a pain management physician for the residual aspects of her overall injuries.
She has recently been able to return to full-time work as a nurse at a local nursing rehabilitation facility and was pulling 3 12-hour shifts a week – without any physical or functional limitations. Following her injuries and her rehabilitation, she was deemed unable to return to nursing – and unable to return to any level of gainful full-time employment. She also was deemed by medical experts to need significant future medical care and pain treatment for her chronic pain condition.
The matter was set for trial here in Utah, however, several weeks before the trial the national parts store chain agreed to mediate the matter and Mr. Harris was able to fully resolve the matter with the satisfaction of Lisa and her family.
Medical Malpractice - Negligent Shot
Medical malpractice lawyer Lynn C. Harris in Utah won a $1.7 million verdict on behalf of a northern Utah client against a rural hospital and its emergency room nursing staff. The client had gone to the hospital for treatment of an infected little toe and became a victim of medical malpractice. She received a tetanus shot, which caused severe and permanent personal injury to her sciatic nerve in her right leg and buttock.