On November 4, 2004, then 44 year old Charles Malmberg underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery to remove a degenerative disc and osteophytes at the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center.

After the surgery, X-rays and an MRI showed he suffered from spinal cord impingement at several points, with excessive edema in the spinal cord. He was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia.

Malmberg filed a medical malpractice claim against the Veterans Administration in 2006. After bench trials on liability and damages, the court concluded that the defendant is liable and awarded substantial pain and suffering and economic damages.

Multiple appeals followed and the matter ultimately was resolved after the decision in Malmberg v. United States of America (N.D.N.Y. 2020)  ordered that an award of pain and suffering damages in the sum of $18,000,000 ($7,500,000 past – 15.5 years, $10,500,000 future – 20.5 years) “does not deviate materially from reasonable compensation.”

Here are some of the injury details:

  • No use of legs, cannot stand and wheelchair bound for life
  • Very limited use of hands
  • Daily uncontrollable spasms
  • Incontinence
  • Significant daily physical pain requiring pain medications
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Depression and multiple psychological issues

Inside Information:

  • In his pre-suit administrative claim, plaintiff sought $6,000,000 in damages. Much of the ensuing litigation concerned his application to increase that “ad damnum” amount.
  • Prior to becoming paralyzed, plaintiff was completely independent although he was not working because of his cervical radiculopathy.
  • According to one of plaintiff’s attorneys, Robert B. Nichols, this case settled for $21,500,000 after the district court’s recent decision, more than 16 years after the surgery that left Mr. Malmberg paralyzed.