Texas Jury Returns $10M+ Medical Malpractice Verdict For Paralyzed Patient, Beating Hospital’s $450K Settlement Offer

Posted by David Siegel on Dec 12, 2022 10:46:57 PM

Lyons closing

CVN screenshot of plaintiffs' attorney Michael Lyons delivering his closing argument

Dallas, TX - A Texas state court jury returned a verdict of roughly $10.2 million on Friday in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a woman and her husband alleging that a hospital’s unnecessary delays in treating bleeding around her spine caused permanent paralysis.

The Dallas County jury returned their verdict shortly after hearing closing arguments in the trial that began on November 29. The award consists of approximately $4.5 million in economic damages for plaintiffs Jessie Adams and her husband Richard and $5.6 million in non-economic damages, though a statutory cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages in Texas limits that amount to $500,000 for the couple, resulting in a total collectible award of roughly $5 million.

The Adams sued Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound after Jessie was taken to the emergency room in 2019 with an epidural hematoma following a steroid and pain relief injection in her back at a nearby clinic.

Their attorneys argued the hospital violated numerous internal policies by needlessly delaying a critically needed MRI scan and emergency surgery, while the hospital maintained the alleged negligence of the physician who performed the injection, Dr. Jon Vu, and his supposed delay in referring Jessie to the emergency room caused her paralysis.

The full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

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Attorney Michael Lyons of the firm Lyons & Simmons LLP, who represented the Adams, told CVN after the trial that the jury’s award far surpassed the hospital’s pre-trial settlement offer of $450,000, along with the limits on a potential high/low agreement the parties discussed throughout the trial.

“We just said, look, this is not a six-figure case, this is a seven-figure case and you’re delusional if you think the case is worth that kind of money,” Lyons said. “Obviously the jury agreed.”

An attorney for the hospital did not respond to a request from CVN for comment.

Lyons said the Texas cap of $250,000 per plaintiff in non-economic damages makes many plaintiff attorneys hesitant to take on healthcare negligence cases in the Lone Star State, noting that medical malpractice filings have fallen by nearly 65 percent since the cap went into effect in 2003. Lyons, a veteran trial lawyer, said he himself had only filed four such cases over the last two decades including this one. 

Medical malpractice cases involving emergency treatment present an additional hurdle, Lyons noted, because Texas law requires meeting a stringent standard of “willful and wonton negligence” to establish liability for the healthcare provider.

“That’s a high, high standard, and most hospitals and their defense lawyers look down their nose at any of these cases that come through the door,” he said, adding that tort reform resulted in many Texas doctors carrying low levels of malpractice insurance. 

“I drive to work every day with more insurance on my car,” Lyons lamented.

Lyons attributed his pre-trial focus group process, which he said he uses in all of his cases, with helping to secure a multi-million verdict despite those numerous obstacles. He also specifically credited jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn of CEB Jury & Trial Consultants with helping him select a jury capable of handling the case's complex subject matter. 

“We did not pick a damages jury in this case. We picked a liability jury,” he said. “If you’ve got a medical negligence case you think you can win, you want jurors that are not going to be technically challenged by the evidence.”

He specified those “liability” jurors tend to be more educated and affluent but also more conservative. He said the hospital’s defense team didn’t seem to take that strategy into account during the voir dire process, assuming Lyons’ preference would be for jurors likely to return a large verdict.

“They were thinking that our game plan was to get a typical Dallas County jury, and they were striking jurors that were quite frankly not going to be good for us,” he said. 

Ultimately Lyons argued the defense strategy of blaming Jessie’s paralysis on Dr. Vu backfired due to the fact he not only remained on the hospital’s staff but at the time of trial was also a partial owner of the physician-owned facility.

Lyons cited his mentor, trial attorney Dick Sayles of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, with teaching him that every jury trial is a “race to credibility.”

“The first person that gets it never loses, and the person that never gets it typically doesn’t win,” Lyons stressed. “I think that’s what the defendant hospital fell short on. They never had any credibility.”

The Adams were also represented by Chris Carr and Michael Fechner of Lyons & Simmons. 

The hospital was represented by Casey Campbell and Russ Schell of Schell Cooley Campbell LLP.

The trial took place before Judge Martin Hoffman in Dallas County’s 68th Civil District Court.

The case is captioned Judy “Jessie” Adams and Richard Adams v. Flower Mount Hospital Partners LLC, d/b/a Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, case number DC-20-17490.

E-mail David Siegel at

Related: Click here to check out 10 "must watch" plaintiff and defense verdicts in medical malpractice trials in CVN's online video library


Topics: Medical Malpractice, Texas