A federal judge has awarded $749,000 to the estate of a World War II veteran who lost much of his vision during surgery at the Veterans Administration medical facility in Jackson, MS.
U.S. District Judge Tom Lee said in a footnote to Monday’s 18-page ruling that he was inclined to award more money for Charles West’s suffering, “which clearly has been extreme,” but was limited by Mississippi’s pain-and-suffering cap in such lawsuits.
West, claimed in his suit that he suffered damage to the corneas of both eyes during a blepharoplasty, a procedure to remove sagging skin between the eyebrow and the eye lid.
West’s injury most likely occurred when a nurse used an undiluted Betadine solution or scrub during preparation for his surgery on March 10, 2006, Lee said.
“After the malpractice, the VA called Mr. West, his 83-year-old sister and his niece into a meeting and told them he had an allergic reaction. They lied to him,” West’s attorney, Billy Quin, said. “If they just would have said this, ’We messed up, but we’re going to take care of you’ and then followed through and taken care of him there probably never would have been a lawsuit.”
The VA disputed the cause and severity of West’s injuries in court records.
West died May 8 at the age of 91, after the trial but before the court’s ruling. The money, if Lee’s ruling stands, would go to his estate.
According to court records, West decided to have the operation after consulting Dr. Daniel K. Kim, an ophthalmology surgeon at the VA, because the sagging skin was a nuisance and removing it could improve his peripheral vision and quality of life.
“Unfortunately, during the procedure, Mr. West suffered chemical burns to his corneas, which caused severe vision loss in both of his eyes,” Lee wrote. “As a result of his loss of vision, Mr. West became dependent on others for his care.”
Lee awarded actual damages of about $249,000 and the maximum $500,000 allowed for so-called non-economic damages, or pain and suffering, under a cap adopted by Mississippi lawmakers for medical malpractice cases in 2002.
“In fact, but for the statutory cap, the court, taking into account future non-economic damages, would have been inclined to award more than $500,000,” Lee wrote.
If you or a family member has been injured because of the fault of someone else; by negligence, personal injury, slip and fall, car accident, medical malpractice, trucking accident, drunk driving, bad product, toxic injury etc then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Medical Malpractice Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.