The Cochran Firm Atlanta attorneys Jane Lamberti Sams, Shean Williams and Edtora Jones recently obtained a $17.5 million verdict on behalf of clients, Patrick and Angela Merritt, in a medical malpractice lawsuit against The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority d/b/a Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University. The case was tried in DeKalb County State Court before Judge Wayne Purdom.
The Merritt family sued anesthesiologist Dr. James Richardson and physician’s assistant Richard Nardi on behalf of their 24-year-old son, Sheriod, who was left with a severe brain injury after elective surgery went wrong on April 11, 2008.
On April 9, 2008, then 19-year-old Sheriod was struck in the jaw by a stray bullet as he was leaving a Lovejoy, Ga., Wal-Mart with friends. While the wound was not life-threatening, Sheriod was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. By April 11, doctors decided to repair Sheriod’s broken jaw even though they were aware their patient’s airway remained partially obstructed and swollen.
As Sheriod was being moved from the OR table post surgery, the anesthesia team did not follow a proper extubation plan, allowing Sheriod to become uncontrollable, flip over on the bed and dislodge his endotracheal (breathing) tube. Sheriod was without oxygen for approximately 7-8 minutes as doctors tried unsuccessfully to re-intubate his obstructed swollen airway. As a result, Sheriod suffered a severe brain injury.
Testimony during the trial was very emotional. Sheriod’s father, Patrick Merritt, talked about how anxious his son was prior to surgery. He recalled, through tears, the last thing his son said to him was, “I love you, dad.”
Attorney Jane Lamberti Sams told jurors, “Sheriod walked into Grady Hospital with a minor gunshot wound to the jaw and left with a severe brain injury. Sheriod’s combative behavior was foreseeable and if the anesthesiologists followed their own plan, Sheriod would have been fine.”
In his closing argument, attorney Shean Williams told the jury, “Grady tried to run from their own records. The notes created by the doctors at the time of treatment clearly showed there was time to safely care for Sheriod’s airway after the surgery. With proper attention, Sheriod would be able to walk, talk, play with his son and do all the things a 24-year-old should be doing.”
The jury deliberated a day-and-a-half before reaching its verdict late last month.