Tampa, FL— Jurors Tuesday awarded more than $68.6 million to a Florida woman after finding four doctors responsible for the catastrophic brain damage and other injuries she suffered following an electrolyte imbalance. Crohan v. Furman, et al., 2019-CA-009248.
The Florida State 13th Circuit Court jury, in Hillsborough County, deliberated roughly six hours before reaching its verdict at trial over the lifelong brain damage Miranda Crohan suffered following a 2017 collapse and bout of severe hyponatremia, or low blood sodium.
Tuesday’s verdict includes $50 million for Crohan’s pain and suffering and more than $17 million for her medical expenses. Jurors apportioned responsibility among four critical care physicians who treated Crohan in the hours and days following her collapse: including 85% of responsibility to Dr. Alexandre Furman and 23% of responsibility to Dr. Rabeeh El-Refadi. Jurors apportioned 1% each to Drs. Ammar Saifo and Darshan Patel.
Crohan, who suffered from diabetes insipidus, an uncommon condition that can cause an imbalance of fluids in the body, had been found unresponsive by a roommate and taken to a Tampa-area hospital where she was found to have a severe electrolyte imbalance. In the hours and days that followed she suffered a range of complications and was left with profound brain damage that will require lifelong care.
The 14-day trial turned in large part on what caused Crohan’s brain damage. The defense contends Crohan’s brain injury stemmed from autoimmune encephalitis and that she received appropriate medical care.
During Tuesday’s closings, Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell’s Lamar Jost, who represents Drs. El-Refadi, Saifo, and Patel said medical opinion and a biopsy of Crohan’s brain showed that autoimmune encephalitis caused Crohan’s brain damage. He added that the physicians met their standard of care in responding to a unique confluence of conditions that struck Crohan.
“She had a disease since she was two years old, an auto-immune disease that caused her to be diagnosed with it in 2016 and that brought her to the hospital in 2017,” Jost said. “And notwithstanding the best care these doctors could give her, they couldn’t slow it down.”
But the Crohan family’s attorneys argue her brain damage was caused by an initial failure to properly treat her blood-sodium levels, which preceded a series of medical errors across days of care.
During his closing Tuesday, Trentalange & Kelley’s Michael Trentalange reminded jurors of the timeline of Crohan’s care following her collapse. He said medical records showed Crohan’s low-blood sodium was overcorrected. And he said expert testimony showed that “see-sawing” overcorrection of sodium levels, not autoimmune encephalitis, caused her brain damage. And he added that medical errors in the following days contributed to Crohan’s injuries.
“You failed to do what you were paid to do,” Trentalange said of the medical treatment. “And you took away someone’s life, or contributed to it.”
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.
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