Woman Wins $23 Million Medical Malpractice Suit Against UF/Shands
A six person jury in Alachua County, unanimously found that Medical Malpractice by the University of Florida's Shands Teaching Hospital led to one woman's severe disability. But her family may never receive the $23 million the jury said she deserves.
In July of 2006, then 34 year old Lanette Gervato of St. Pete, went to Shands for a neurological procedure that her lawyer says she didn't really need. After what Gary Cohen calls a series of errors in her care, Gervato suffered complications that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Cohen said, "Her life has been ruined, her life has been devastated beyond repair." Gervato had been married for 4 months when she went to the hospital for recurring headaches.
Tests revealed she had an unrelated small brain aneurysm, and her neurosurgeon suggested she have an operation called a coiling procedure.
Cohen said, "Unfortunately at the time that they were up in the brain, they had perforated one of the arteries of the brain and they didn't know it." The combination of that injury, along with her dosage of a highly potent blood thinner called Heparin, made her skull fill up with blood.
Cohen said the doctor's delay in identifying the bleeding led to Gervato suffering a massive stroke that ultimately paralyzed the left side of her body. He said, "Unfortunately the injuries she has are completely permanent there's not going to be any hope for her getting any better. The condition she is in now is the condition she will be in for the rest of her life"
The jury said last night that Gervato deserves $23 million because of medical malpractice by her caretakers. But a spokesperson for UF said the legal battle isn't over. Janeen Sikes said, "Our concern is always for our patients and their families, since the outcome of this case is uncertain at this point we are unable to comment further."
Another devastating blow is that Gervato may never see the money because the University of Florida is a state entity protected by sovereign immunity statutes. The state legislature will have to grant a claim bill to award her any more than $200,000.
Even after a partial victory, Christmas will remain a difficult time for the Gervato family. Cohen said, "Their Christmas will be their fourth miserable Christmas and no matter what money they get or don't get their Christmases aren't going to get any better."
If the judgement by the jury is upheld through the appellate process, then Cohen said they will petition the state legislature for a claim bill to be passed next March to award Lanette Gervato $23 million.
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