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Record-Breaking Settlement for Man Paralyzed by Hospital’s Negligence

A Texas hospital admitted a senior man named Rip for fever and debilitating back pain – dangerous signs of a spinal epidural abscess. However, the hospital had no neurosurgeons available and let Rip languish for six days as his expenses grew. Tragically, he suffered from internal bleeding, sepsis, and eventually paralysis. While the hospital could have transported Rip to another facility only minutes away to be treated, they chose to keep him within its billing system. To illustrate the hospital’s gross negligence and show punitive damages were warranted,  Sean Breen of Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP reinforced his demand package with a documentary and a day-in-the-life video.

Rip was referred to the hospital by a smaller emergency room. However, instead of immediate surgical intervention, the hospital had Rip wait for days until the abscess ate away at his spine, rendering him paraplegic. After being released from the hospital, Rip’s wife contacted Sean Breen. Sean knew he needed to resolve the case quickly to get the family the compensation they deserved. However, with Texas’ noneconomic damages capped at $250,000 per claimant, Sean needed to illustrate the utter disregard for Rip’s wellbeing and show exemplary damages were justified.

Sean retained a lifecare planner who calculated the cost of Rip’s future medical expenses, his household services to improve his quality of life, and his loss of earnings. After obtaining all of Rip’s medical records, Sean needed to communicate three key concepts: (1) that the hospital acted with gross negligence, (2) that the hospital’s greed had a human impact, and (3) what the costs to maintain Rip’s health after his ordeal looked like. To convey the gravity of the hospital’s inaction and prepare for mediation with the opposition’s risk managers, Sean shared his evidence with DK Global to create a documentary. In addition, a videographer captured Rip’s decline and his family’s struggle to overcome the immense trauma they suffered.

The documentary recounted Rip’s initial emergency room visit. After doctors suspected a spinal epidural abscess, they shared their findings with the more-equipped hospital, which admitted him despite having no available neurosurgeons. Instead of immediate surgical intervention, new attending doctors took an MRI of Rip’s back in the wrong location. The next day, another MRI was ordered, finally locating Rip’s abscess. Nothing was done until three days later, resulting in Rip’s paralysis.

A day-in-the-life video showed the human damages caused by the hospital’s negligence as Rip and his family shared their horrific experience. Sadly, Rip and his wife’s plans of enjoying their retirement and traveling together were ruined. Finally, Rip’s lifecare plan was outlined, including his medical expenses, loss of earnings, and the warranted punitive damages.

One month before mediation, Sean included the documentary in his demand package and submitted it to the hospital’s risk management department. After reviewing the video, the Defense agreed to resolve the matter for a record-breaking settlement.

Sean Breen is a record-setting trial attorney who has won numerous Hall of Fame verdicts and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients. Sean has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for personal injury, product liability, commercial litigation, and medical malpractice. Additionally, Sean was selected to be part of the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, National Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and Super Lawyers. Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP represents clients nationwide with offices in Texas, Colorado, and California.

"I sit down with the [DK Global] team, I tell them what the key concepts are, and it's amazing. We have a collaborative back and forth, we put a lot of work into these presentations and it shows."
Sean Breen – Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP
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