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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Georgia Court of Appeals Upholds $10.1 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

Georgia Court of Appeals Upholds $10.1 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict


In any Georgia personal injury case, the trier of fact must decide the plaintiff’s damages. When it comes to compensation designed to make the plaintiff whole, an award is divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are usually fairly simple to calculate, as they reflect a plaintiff’s out-of-pocket losses, such as the medical bills they incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Non-economic damages, in contrast, are more subjective, as they are meant to cover losses such as the plaintiff’s “pain and suffering” or inability to resume their previous activities.

Court of Appeals: Damages Not “Flagrantly Excessive” Given Extent of Victim’s Suffering

It is not uncommon for defendants to complain of “excessive” jury awards for non-economic damages. But judges are expected to uphold a jury’s verdict unless the damages awarded are either “so inadequate” or “so excessive” that they are clearly inconsistent with the evidence presented in the case. Within these guidelines, it is possible for a jury to award millions of dollars in non-economic damages when the evidence clearly shows the plaintiff has greatly suffered at the hands of the defendant.

For example, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently upheld a $10.1 million judgment in a medical malpractice case. The underlying facts in this case, White v. McGouirk, are fairly straightforward and horrifying. In 2018, the defendant performed a surgical procedure to remove the defendant’s gallbladder. During the surgery, the defendant cut the plaintiff’s bile duct. The injury could not be immediately repaired due to the potential for causing the plaintiff’s liver to fail.

As a result, the plaintiff was required to wear a “bile bag” and feeding tube for nearly a year until it was safe to proceed with a surgical procedure. During this year, the plaintiff was hospitalized multiple times due to infection of her open bile duct wound. And even after a different doctor repaired her bile duct, she still required multiple hernia surgeries related to that repair.

The plaintiff sued her original surgeon for medical malpractice. As previously noted, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and awarded $10.1 million in damages–$10 million to the plaintiff and $100,000 to her husband for loss of consortium. On appeal, the defense argued the jury’s verdict was excessive.

The Court of Appeals, however, declined to second-guess the jury. The appellate court noted the plaintiff’s economic damages alone for medical expenses exceeded $900,000. As for her non-economic damages, in addition to dealing with the ongoing health issues described above, she continues to deal with substantial abdominal pain, her inability to return to work, and an estranged relationship with her young son, who had to be left primarily in his grandmother’s care while she recuperated. In light of this, the Court of Appeals said the jury’s $10 million award “was not so flagrantly excessive as to shock the conscience.”

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Surgical errors and other forms of medical malpractice often leave the victim’s life in shatters. While no amount of money can undo the damage done, it can provide a measure of security as the victims look to rebuild. So if you have been the victim of malpractice, it is important to speak with a qualified Gwinnett County personal injury attorney. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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