The argument made by government attorneys recently in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against the Veterans Administration alleging negligent treatment of infection apparently struck the judge as being patently unpersuasive and clearly unsupported by striking evidence to the contrary.
The case involved a then-64-year-old man -- a construction manager and former military veteran -- who sought treatment in 2006 at the Memphis Veterans Medical Center for what was ultimately determined to be a colon infection called diverticulitis.
The man came to the hospital's emergency room in great pain, but was not thoroughly examined or treated by doctors.
Instead, he was sent back home, where, a few days later, his colon ruptured. He suffered infection throughout his body.
Defense attorneys argued at trial that the man's actual injuries and damages owing to the infection were not commensurate with his claims, and that he was greatly overstating their extent.
United States District Court Judge Jon McCalla found that claim to be eminently underwhelming and awarded the Vietnam-era combat veteran $5.7 million in damages for what he deemed the facility's negligent medical treatment.
The veteran's ruptured colon resulted in his need to undergo additional surgeries. He also lost several toes due to the development of gangrene, and his attorneys noted that he is in a permanently weakened condition and in chronic pain.
The damage award included amounts for pain and suffering, medical care, lost earning capacity and lost future wages, and loss of the man's enjoyment of life.
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal "Judge awards $5.7 million to veteran in medical negligence case" Lawrence Buser, Jan. 4, 2012