Roderick Edmond argues why two nurses are responsible for the death of Shari Edwards, days after she gave birth.
It can be difficult to secure a verdict against nursing staff in a medical negligence case when a jury finds a treating physician was not responsible. However, Roderick Edmond’s incisive closing at trial over the death of a new mother secured a seven-figure verdict against two nurses who cared for her.
Shari Edwards died in May 2009, three days after being admitted to the hospital for preeclampsia and ultimately giving birth to her daughter.
In closings of the 2017 trial against a doctor and two nurses who treated Edwards, Edmond, now of Atlanta’s Edmond Lindsay & Atkins, argued the nurses bore an independent duty of care to Edwards and failed to monitor or respond to her deteriorating condition.
Edmond walked jurors through a list he said showed negligence at several key moments of Edwards’ care. The nurses, he argued, could have prevented her fatal collapse by more closely monitoring her vital signs and calling the appropriate staff for assistance.
“They knew that Ms. Edwards possibly had a condition that could unravel in seconds to minutes. She can go from looking OK, to all of a sudden, [a] crash and burn,” Edmond said.
“The nurses could have independently said, ‘Hey, we know that this is something that may unravel quickly. Let’s get some people down here,” Edmond added. Let’s get a continuous monitor on her… Let’s check her vital signs. That takes 30 seconds. Let’s do that.’
“It didn’t happen.”
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Edmond pushed back against defense claims that the nurses acted appropriately in preparing Edwards for physician-ordered tests, including a CT scan, for Edwards. He said that did not exclude proper monitoring of Edwards and support for her condition.
“Common sense; what’s most important in a situation like [Edwards’s]?” Edmond asked. “Surround this woman with protection with care. Check her vital signs.”
Edmond then highlighted the alternative. “Or does it make more sense to say, keep her unprotected. You know she could unravel in seconds. And let’s go stumbling and bumbling and trying to get IVs when you don’t even know you need an IV for radiology,” Edmond said. “This is precious time. Wasted time.”
Edmond’s argument regarding the nurses won the day. Although jurors cleared the treating physician of fault they apportioned 70% of responsibility on one nurse and 30% on the other, awarding more than $3 million.
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