Bartow, FL—A state court jury Tuesday awarded $4.9 million for the medical negligence it found cost a Florida man his lower leg.Gray v. Iakovidis, 2015CA003137.
Jurors, in Florida’s 10th Circuit, in Polk County, deliberated for about four hours before concluding Dr. Panagiotis Iakovidis, a vascular surgeon, was negligent in treating Samuel Gray for a 2013 blood clot in his left leg. Gray, then 61, underwent a below-the-knee amputation days after being treated for the clot.
Tuesday's award includes $4 million for Gray’s pain and suffering and $300,000 to Gray’s wife, Belva.
One of the the Grays’ attorneys, Searcy Denney’s Matthew Schwencke, did not request a specific total award during Tuesday’s closing arguments, but instead suggested jurors award “millions” for Gray’s pain and suffering.
The award far exceeded the defense's $15,000 pre-trial settlement offer, one of the Grays' attorneys, Searcy Denney's Edward Ricci, told CVN after the verdict. Ricci said his team had offered to settle the case for the insurance policy limit of $500,000, but the defense didn't respond by the 30-day deadline he set. Ricci added that, the night before trial, the defense ultimately reached out to discuss a potential high-low settlement. "I gave them a one word answer, which was 'No,'" Ricci said.
"They could have settled this case for $500,000, although we didn't feel that was anywhere near the full measure of Mr. Gray's damages," Ricci told CVN. "Given... the uncertainty of trials, [the Grays] were willing to take that, but, [the defense] never offered to pay more than $15,000.
"They forced us to try the case, which we were happy to do."
The plaintiff claims Iakovidis' delay in ordering treatment after Gray arrived at Winter Haven Hospital complaining of severe lower leg pain ultimately led to the loss of his leg. The six-day trial focused on Iakovidis’ care and the underlying reason for the amputation.
During Tuesday’s closings, McEwan, Martinez, Dukes & Hall’s Mary Jaye Hall, representing Iakovidis, argued that Gray’s chronic artery disease, rather than the blood clot and its treatment, cost Gray his lower leg.
Hall told jurors radiology reports showed clot-dissolving treatment actually cleared the clot that Gray suffered from when he was first admitted to the hospital. “It wasn’t too late, the leg was viable, and it worked,” Hall said. “What we were left with was the chronic, long-standing disease.”
Hall contended post-amputation pathology showed Gray suffered from long-term atherosclerosis, or arterial plaque buildup, in his lower leg. “Mr. Gray had chronic disease in his left lower extremity, and all of the efforts from the plaintiff to suggest otherwise belie the science in this case,” Hall said. “They are adverse to the medical records that we have in this case, and they are adverse to the pathology report from the amputated leg.”
However, Ricci took a different view of the records, arguing they showed complications from the acute clot forced the amputation. "[The defense is] trying to rewrite the records,” Ricci told jurors. “The evidence says that this was acute, and to suggest otherwise, that belies common sense.”
Ricci argued Gray’s leg could have been saved if the clot had been treated promptly. Ricci contended Iakovidis was called the evening of January 21st when Gray was first admitted to the hospital, but did not enter orders regarding Gray’s treatment until late in the afternoon of the 22nd.
Meanwhile, Ricci said, nursing notes showed Gray’s symptoms worsening, with him complaining of leg weakness and cold skin. “This leg is dying, and Dr. Iakovidis isn’t doing anything about it,” Ricci said. “That doesn’t meet the minimum standard of care: not in Polk County, not anywhere.”
After the trial, Ricci told CVN he believed evidence of a "stat" medical consult order issued by the ER doctor the night Gray was admitted, and which Iakovidis denied on cross-exam that he received, likely played a key role in the jury's decision. "I think that was devastating to [Iakovidis'] credibility, Ricci said.
"It was a great day for our clients. They got their day in court," Ricci said. "Their peers acknowledged what happened to them was wrong... and just how tremendously devastating it has been to their lives."
CVN has reached out to the defense for comment on the trial and will update this article with any response.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samuel and Belva Gray are represented by Searcy Denney’s Edward Ricci and Matthew Schwencke.
Dr. Panagiotis Iakovidis is represented by McEwan, Martinez, Dukes & Hall’s Mary Jaye Hall and Thomas Dukes, III.
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