On December 4, 2010, Keimoneia Redish, an asthmatic, went to the emergency room at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx with complaints of shortness of breath, wheezing and chest pain. She was diagnosed with hypercapnic respiratory failure and admitted for treatment. She underwent various procedures and treatment, suffered from a significant blood pressure drop, near cessation of urine output, an 80 pound weight increase and excessive carbon dioxide in her blood. On December 14th, Ms. Redish, then 40 years old, suffered a seizure that caused extensive brain damage.
In the ensuing medical malpractice lawsuit, plaintiff contended that her doctors failed to have her undergo extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (“ECMO” – the mechanical oxygenation of blood) in time to have prevented a permanent injury.
The jury agreed with plaintiff finding that four of the doctors treating her were negligent and they awarded her pain and suffering damages in the sum of $90,000,000 ($60,000,000 past – nine years, $30,000,000 future – 34.5 years). The trial judge agreed with the defense that the award was excessive and he reduced it to $30,000,000 ($7,000,000 past, $23,000,000 future).
In Redish v. Adler (1st Dept. 2021), the appellate court affirmed the liability findings but reduced the pain and suffering award even further – to $10,000,000 ($3,000,000 past, $7,000,000 future).
Here are the injury details:
- anoxic encephalopathy (brain tissue damage caused by deprivation of oxygen)
- greatly impaired motor skills and ataxia (loss of full control of bodily movements) requiring use of wheelchair
- cognitive deficits including slow thinking
- nystagmus (abnormal movement of eyes)
- dysarthria (slow and slurred speech)
- hospitalized and in various facilities for one year before discharge to home
- requires assistance in almost all activities of daily living including eating (could not feed herself at all for eight years), dressing and bathing
The defendants argued that plaintiff was properly treated at the hospital and that extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was not an accepted standard method of treating plaintiff’s asthma emergency. Furthermore, they noted that the hospital did not have the equipment to perform ECMO and that transport to another facility was too dangerous.
The jury also awarded in excess of $10,000,000 for future medical expenses. The bulk of that was for home health aides.
- After plaintiff finally returned home, she had a full-time aide; after four years, her common law husband quit his job, underwent extensive training and became her certified aide.
- Each of the four defendants was listed separately on the verdict sheet as were their individual departures.
- The trial lasted seven weeks but the jury deliberated for only 10 hours.