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What Are the Largest Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in History?

Injuries from medical negligence are often severe, and the behavior of doctors is often viewed as inexcusable or downright horrifying. As such, there is a history of cases ending with vast damages awards for plaintiffs.

Some of the largest medical malpractice cases have seen damages worth several million dollars. While such a large amount of money might seem life-changing, the plaintiffs at the center of these cases are often irreparably harmed. Many have been left with limited cognitive abilities, shortened life spans, and cannot care for themselves. Remember that these large medical malpractice damages awards are exceptional cases and do not necessarily reflect the average case. The average settlement for medical malpractice cases in Maryland varies based on the injuries involved but might be worth a lot of money.

To schedule a free review of your claims and possible damages with our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

The Largest Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in History

Below are some of the largest medical malpractice cases in history, arranged from smallest to largest. Remember, the injuries involved in these cases are extreme. Even so, these cases might give you an idea of how valuable medical malpractice claims can be.

Christopher Denton v. Riverside Physician Services

A Virginia case saw a damages award of $25 million for a plaintiff who experienced a heart attack after doctors negligently misdiagnosed a heart condition. Christopher Denton went to the doctor for serious chest pains radiating throughout his upper body. Doctors misdiagnosed Denton with a mild heart infection, advised that he take over-the-counter medicine, and sent him home.

Three months later, Christopher Denton suffered a massive heart attack. His heart was so damaged that his life expectancy was cut drastically short. The jury awarded Denton $25 million, but the courts reduced this award to about $2 million per Virginia’s cap on damages.

Dale Whyte v. Thomas Rodenberg M.D., Basil Mangra M.D.

In Florida, a patient Named Dale Whyte was put under anesthesia for surgery in 2008 and remains in a vegetative state. The patient’s attorneys claimed he lacked oxygen for at least 5 minutes while under anesthesia. They also claimed he has some internal awareness but cannot move or communicate, meaning he is effectively locked inside his own body. The jury awarded the plaintiff $38.5 million.

Billy Pierce v. East Texas Medical Center

In Texas, a jury awarded plaintiff Billy Pierce $43 million in damages after his attorneys claimed he was effectively abandoned in the hospital while in a coma. Pierce was hospitalized with stomach pains and needed bile duct stones removed. His physician, Dr. Gary Boyd, misdiagnosed Pierce with an anatomical abnormality that would make surgical treatment impossible. Eventually, Pierce was placed in a medically induced coma for over a month and did not receive any further treatment until another doctor intervened.

Buckelew v. Womack

In this case, a Georgia man suffered a serious stroke during a chiropractic adjustment treatment. He was rushed to the hospital where, even though imaging and tests indicated a brain stem stroke, doctors failed to diagnose or treat Buckelew until the following day. The plaintiff now suffers from “locked-in syndrome,” a condition that has paralyzed Buckelew’s entire body except his eyes but leaves his cognitive functioning intact. The jury awarded the plaintiff $75 million.

The Kromphardt Family

One of Iowa’s largest medical malpractice cases involves a birth injury experienced by the Kromphardt family. A baby born to the Kromphardts was in fetal distress during delivery and struggling to get oxygen. The plaintiff’s attorneys claim a cesarean section should have been ordered. Instead, the doctor continued with the delivery and tried to use forceps to pull the baby out, fracturing the baby’s skull. The child was born with severe brain damage, which will affect them forever. The jury awarded the family $97.4 million.

Dixon v. VHS Children’s Hospital of Michigan Inc.

In Detroit, plaintiff Faith DeGrand Was awarded $135 million for injuries she suffered from medical malpractice when she was only 10 years old. DeGrand underwent surgery to fix a curvature in her spine but improperly placed rods meant to relieve pressure on the spine drastically affected DeGrand’s limbs, bowel, and bladder. She was left with permanent limb weakness and no control over her bowel or bladder.

Applewhite v. Accuhealth, Inc.

A jury in The Bronx awarded $172 million to Tiffany Applewhite after negligent mistakes made by emergency medical responders. Applewhite, who was 12 then, had trouble breathing at home after being administered a shot for an eye condition. Her mother called 911, but ambulance workers did not have the equipment to help Tiffany.

Tiffany soon went into cardiac arrest, and her mother begged the ambulance workers to transport her daughter to the hospital. Instead, they instructed the family to wait for another ambulance, which did not arrive for 20 minutes. The delay in treatment caused Tiffany to suffer serious brain damage, and she can no longer walk or talk.

$190 Million – Dr. Nikita Levy of Johns Hopkins

A particularly startling case was filed against Dr. Nikita Levy of Johns Hopkins here in Maryland. This case did not involve one injured patient but several thousand. It was discovered that Dr. Levy, a gynecologist, had secretly recorded photos and videos of his patients without their consent using a small camera-pen device. Dr. Levy had been a doctor for over 25 years, and thousands of current and former patients were violated. The jury awarded $190 million.

$216.7 Million – Allan Navarro, Florida

One of the largest medical malpractice claims in history was out of Florida. Allan Navarro went to the doctor complaining of multiple symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, and headaches. He also informed nurses that he had a family history of strokes. Despite the wealth of information that indicated a stroke was imminent, doctors misdiagnosed Navarro with sinusitis and sent him home with painkillers. He soon suffered a massive stroke and now relies on a wheelchair. The jury awarded Navarro $216.7 million.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Health Medical Center v. Erica Byrom

The plaintiff claimed that she chose to have a typical vaginal delivery because she was not properly informed of the risks and complications in her case. The plaintiff maintained that she would have made a different decision if she had been informed that a cesarean section was a significantly safer option. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s daughter was born with severe injuries that will impact her for the rest of her life.

The plaintiff was initially awarded $229 million, the largest medical malpractice damages award in history. The award was reduced to $205 million by the courts to be in line with statutory caps on damages. In 2021, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned the verdict, holding that the plaintiff could not prove negligence based on the evidence. Even though this award was ultimately overturned, it shows how large medical malpractice cases can be.

How Much is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice in Maryland?

The average settlement for Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits is difficult to define because damages awards may differ significantly. For example, two patients might suffer similar injuries from a negligent misdiagnosis. However, the jury in one case might find that the defendant’s behavior was so shocking that high punitive damages are awarded. Meanwhile, the jury in the other case might not award any punitive damages, making for a very different overall award.

It is not uncommon for cases to settle for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cases involving life-long injuries and disabilities might even be worth millions. As discussed above, punitive damages are a big part of damages in medical malpractice cases, and whether they are even awarded depends on your unique circumstances. On top of that, Maryland does not impose a limit on punitive damages, meaning our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers can help you fight for the greatest compensation possible,

Call Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys to Discuss Your Lawsuit

To schedule a free review of your claims and possible damages with our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.