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Missed Diagnosis Case Results in $1.8 Million Jury Award

What Happened:

A woman lost her life after being diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP, an extremely rare blood disorder. A medical malpractice claim was filed against St. James Healthcare, the hospital where the woman was treated, because the hospital did not properly diagnose the woman.

A jury awarded the missed diagnosis victim $1.8 million. However, the jury determined that the victim only had a 15 percent chance of surviving, even if the hospital correctly diagnosed her disease. Therefore, the jury award was reduced to $187,500 in damages.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $1 million for economic loss due to the woman’s death and $880,000 to her heirs for non-economic losses. However, under Montana law (where the plaintiffs resided), the maximum non-economic damage award is $250,000, so that reduced the total award to $1.25 million, according to

The $1.25 million was reduced further by the 15 percent “loss of chance.” This is a doctrine basing damages of the percentage chance that the plaintiff would have survived if an accurate diagnosis was made. Therefore, the plaintiffs in this case could only receive 15 percent of the $1.25 million, or $187,500.

The Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer’s Perspective:

Our firm is glad to see that the plaintiff received some semblance of justice from this missed diagnosis case. However, it is disturbing to see a $1.8 million jury award diminished to $187,500. The “loss of chance” doctrine is somewhat understandable, but the arbitrary cap on non-economic damages only serves to benefit insurance companies, not the victims of medical negligence.  

Potentially Helpful Info:

Our firm has written extensively about the false logic behind caps on non-economic damages. Take a moment to read this article.

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Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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