Articles Posted in Catastrophic Injury

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In Woodson v. Go, Florida’ Fifth District Court of Appeal (“Fifth DCA”) held that even in complex medical malpractice cases, the trial court has broad discretion to place limitations on expert witnesses. The holding represents a self-proclaimed rescission from Lake v. Clark, a 1988 Fifth DCA decision that overturned a trial court’s exclusion of a doctor’s expert witness testimony on standard of care.

The Woodson case involved a Plaintiff who claimed medical malpractice for negligent placement of a cardiac cauterization and failure to timely detect the resulting occlusion. To further his case, the plaintiff sought to call two interventional cardiologists as expert witnesses. The trial court allowed this, but limited one expert to liability only and the other only to causation. The Defendants all denied liability and maintained that they properly met the standard of care. At trial, the Defendants were victorious on liability which prompted the Plaintiff to appeal the final judgment based on the limitation of expert witnesses.

In upholding the verdict for the Defendants, the Fifth DCA held, “…we see no reason to permit litigants in medical malpractice cases to have an almost unfettered right to present cumulative expert witness testimony.” Applying an abuse of discretion standard, the appellate court noted black-letter Florida law that gives trial courts broad discretion in placing limitations on expert witnesses. See Lion Plumbing Supply, Inc. v. Suarez, 844 So. 2d 768, 770 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003); Elder v. Farulla, 768 So. 2d 1155 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). The court also referenced Fla. Stat 90.612(1)(b), Fla. Stat. 90.403 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.200(b)(4), all of which give the trial court the duty and power to limit cumulative testimony, including that of experts, for the purposes of an expedient trial.

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In a landmark decision, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal (“Fourth DCA”) in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan held that caps on non-economic damages in personal injury medical malpractice cases violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution.

The Plaintiff,  Susan Kalitan, suffered serious injury due to medical negligence when she went in for a carpal tunnel surgery that required anesthesia. The Defendant/anesthesiologist punctured a hole in her esophagus while performing intubation. When Ms. Kalitan awoke after surgery, she complained of excruciating pain in her chest and back but the anesthesiologist failed to detect the problem. She was released from the hospital, but the next day Ms. Kalitan’s neighbor found her at home unresponsive. She was rushed back to the hospital for life-saving surgery. Ms. Kalitan spent several weeks in a drug-induced coma before having additional surgeries and intensive therapy to begin eating again and regain mobility. She presently suffers from pain in the upper half of her body and serious mental disorders as a result of this traumatic incident and loss of independence due to physical limitations.

At trial, the jury awarded Ms. Kalitan $4 million in non-economic damages, but that figure was reduced by the trial court post-verdict to $2 million under the non-economic damages caps found in Fla. Stat. 766.118. The trial court denied the Plaintiff’s arguments that the caps were unconstitutional violations of the Equal Protection Clause, her right to access the courts and her right to trial by jury.

Ms. Kalitan appealed the reduction of her jury-awarded damages to the Fourth DCA where she was victorious. Judge Forst delivered the opinion for the appellate court, wherein he carefully followed the Florida Supreme Court’s rationale in Estate of McCall v. United States, 134 So. 3d 894 (Fla. 2014). In Estate of McCall, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases violated Florida’s Equal Protection Clause as, “the greater the number of survivors and the more devastating their losses are, the less likely they are to be fully compensated for those loses”, particularly in comparison to cases where there was only one survivor.

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Traumatic brain injuries are some of the most catastrophic injuries you can suffer. In many instances, a brain injury can result in severe, lifelong disabilities that require ongoing medical care and rehabilitation. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is crucial to your ability to recover from a brain injury. For this reason, it is important to seek medical care immediately following a blow to the head.

There are a wide range of symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. The ones you exhibit may vary depending

on the location and severity of your blow to the head. If you experience any of the following brain injury symptoms after hitting your head, visit your doctor at once:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sensory issues such as ringing in the ears, blurry vision, or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Depression
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Mood swings
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Weakness or numbness in extremities
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation or combativeness

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Welcome to the personal injury blog for The Grife Law Firm. Michael K. Grife has been fighting for the rights of injury victims in the Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach, and Delray Beach areas since 2005, and he can help you through this difficult time in your life.

Mr. Grife’s practice is entirely focused on plaintiff personal injury cases. He has experience handling just about every type of personal injury claim, including:

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