CVN screenshot of plaintiff's attorney Christian Morris delivering her closing argument
Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury awarded $29.5 million on Friday to the family of a young woman who developed severe brain damage due to an allergic reaction to peanuts at a Las Vegas magic convention and allegedly did not receive proper treatment from emergency medical technicians on-site.
The jury deliberated for most of Thursday evening and Friday morning before returning the verdict against MedicWest Ambulance Inc., in one of the first major in-person civil jury trials in Nevada since last year’s Covid-19 shutdown. The trial took place in a huge specially outfitted room in the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center to accommodate social distancing for the jurors.
The full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, which is resuming its video coverage of civil jury trials of interest to the legal, business and educational communities as an increasing number of courts nationwide begin restarting trials.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of plaintiff Chantel Rose Giacolone has been pending since 2015, an unusually long time for a civil case to go to trial, thus giving it priority amongst the first cases slated for trial in the convention center.
The verdict is less than the approximately $60 million that Giacolone’s attorneys sought, but is also substantially more than the $8 million MedicWest’s attorneys suggested the jury award, in the event they found the company liable.
Attorneys for the parties did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giacolone suffered the reaction after accidentally ingesting ice cream with a pretzel topping containing peanut butter while attending a convention for magic enthusiasts at the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center in 2013.
Giacolone’s attorneys argued the EMT station staffed by MedicWest lacked the lifesaving drug epinephrine in a form that would allow it to be immediately administered intravenously. EMT’s allegedly administered the epinephrine intramuscularly, but that was not effective for a reaction as severe as Giacolone’s. They also maintained the EMT’s failed to call for an ambulance quickly enough.
Giacolone was eventually revived at a nearby hospital, but not before suffering a severe brain injury due to lack of oxygen that will require round-the-clock medical care for the rest of her life.
MedicWest argued that the decisions made in treating Giacolone’s reaction were consistent with the standard of care for someone presenting in her condition. They argued Giacolone was walking unassisted when she first entered the medic tent and speaking in full sentences, which they claim didn’t warrant immediate IV epinephrine, and that local regulations don’t require EMT’s to stock epinephrine for immediate IV use.
Giacalone is represented by Christian Morris and Victoria Allen of the Nettles Morris law firm, and by Jeffrey Cook and Joseph Thomas of the Michigan-based firm Driggers Schultz & Herbst PC.
MedicWest is represented by William Drury and Jeffrey Hunter of the Arizona-based firm Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros PA, and by local Nevada counsel John Cotton and Adam Schneider of John H. Cotton & Associates LTD.
The trial took place before Clark County District Court Judge Jacqueline Bluth. For access to the webcast please visit www.cvn.com.
The case is captioned Deborah Jean Giacalone, in her capacity as the guardian of Chantel Rose Giacalone v. MedicWest Ambulance Inc., et al., case number A-15-714139-C in Nevada’s eight judicial district court.
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