Verdict in pain pump case

$5.3M jury verdict in pain pump case; defendant responsible for 25% of fault

Joe Bennett of Cross & Bennett LLC teamed up with Jim Puga of Leventhal, Brown & Puga of Denver and obtained a $5.3M verdict in a medical malpractice case that was just decided on September 2, 2011. The El Paso County District Court jury deliberated for about 4 hours and assessed 25% of the fault to the defendant, Dr. S.B., making him responsible for $1.3M of the total verdict. The plaintiff, B.O., was a chronic pain patient due to a severe lower back injury suffered in a car accident many years earlier. In 2005, Dr. S.B., a pain management specialist, recommended implantation of a pain pump and intrathecal catheter to deliver a morphine based medication directly into B.O.'s spinal canal. Beginning in late 2006, B.O.'s condition began to markedly deteriorate, and, on July 7, 2007, while visiting family in North Dakota, he woke up paralyzed. An MRI revealed that an inflammatory mass, or granuloma, had developed around the tip of the catheter and invaded the spinal cord, causing paralysis.

The jury concluded that B.O.'s lifetime damages were $5.3M, including $1.4M for past medical expenses and $3.9M for future care. The jury apportioned responsibility at 25% to Dr. S.B., 15% to B.O., and 45% and 15%, respectively, to two non-parties, a radiologist and a neurosurgeon. Prior to trial, B.O. settled claims against the radiologist and the neurosurgeon's professional corporation.

An appeal is expected.