Atlanta— Jurors Thursday cleared an Atlanta neurologist of fault in a $10 million claim over a condition that left one of his patients legally blind. Izundu v. Choi, et al., 16EV003151.
The Fulton County State Court jury deliberated for about an hour-and-a-half before concluding Dr. Brice Choi was not negligent in treating Kimberly Izundu for worsening vision problems caused by pressure around her brain.
Izundu suffered optic nerve damage that has left her legally blind after a 2014 bout of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a condition in which pressure in the spaces of the brain can become dangerously high. Izundu claims Choi failed to diagnose the condition or follow up in time to save her vision, despite her tell-tale symptoms and abnormal results of an MRI.
During Thursday’s closing arguments, the Izundu family’s attorney, Shamp Jordan Woodward’s Laura Shamp, requested $10 million.
Izundu had seen Choi twice, complaining of worsening symptoms, ranging from headaches and pulsing sounds in her ears to intermittent vision loss. Days later, she visited the emergency room at Piedmont Hospital and later, Emory University Hospital, where her condition was ultimately diagnosed.
Although Piedmont Henry and its doctors were originally named as defendants in the suit, a 2017 consent judgment involving Piedmont left Choi and his practice the only defendants at trial. The three-day proceeding turned largely on whether Choi had gone far enough in his care.
In closings Thursday, Shamp told jurors Izundu suffered from clear symptoms of IIH, but that Choi did not perform the eye exam that could have diagnosed the condition in time to save Izundu’s sight. “You can’t wait a week. You can’t wait a day. Pick up the phone and call somebody. He didn’t do that because he didn’t know what it was,” Shamp said. “Dr. Choi is a danger because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
But the defense argued Choi had met his standard of care in referring Izundu to an eye expert for further testing.
On Thursday, Choi’s attorney, Weathington McGrew’s Paul Weathington, pointed to evidence he said showed Choi had ordered follow-up care with an ophthalmologist, but that Izundu did not follow through in a timely manner. “We told her to go to the eye doctor because she’s got vision trouble. That’s why you go to the eye doctor, because your eyes aren’t working good, and you might lose vision,” Weathington said. “I guess we had to drive her. I guess we had to get an Uber. I guess we had to follow her around and make sure she’d gone."
In an email following the verdict, Shamp told CVN "We believe there was an error in the case and are considering our options for appeal."
CVN has reached out to the defense team and will update this article with any comment they provide.
CVN recorded the trial gavel-to-gavel and will publish it as soon as possible.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberly and Leonard Izundu are represented by Shamp Jordan Woodward’s Laura Shamp, Jennifer Jordan, Joshua Silk, and Natalie Woodward, and by Mary Lewis of the Law Office of Mary Lewis.
Dr. Brice Choi and the South Atlanta Neurology and Pain Clinic are represented by Weathington McGrew’s Paul Weathington and Jessica Holland.