Virginia: Patient Fall – a Lawyer’s Publications

Virginia: Patient Fall – a Lawyer’s Publications

On January 2, 2013, the Court issued its letter opinion in favor of Mr. Waterman’s client on all post-trial motions in the patient fall case of Shirley Frazier Burrell v. Riverside Hospital, Inc., et al., No. CL1101633F-15 in Circuit Court for the City of Newport News, Virginia. Those motions were heard on December 27, 2012.

First, the Court denied Defendant Riverside Hospital, Inc.’s Motion to Set Aside Jury Verdict in the Burrell medical malpractice lawsuit. Riverside Hospital, Inc. had filed an 11-page Memorandum in Support with 4 Exhibits consisting of 29 pages on December 14, 2012; and also a 7-page Memorandum in Reply with 2 Exhibits consisting of 15 pages, immediately before hearing on December 27, 2012.

Second, the Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Costs in the Burrell brain injury suit. It awarded Plaintiff $4,533.65 against Riverside Hospital, Inc. for filing fees, service fees and videographer/reporter fees, atop the jury’s verdict of $3,500,000.00 (which on Plaintiff’s oral motion on December 7, 2012, already had been reduced to the applicable statutory “cap” of $1,800,000.00).

Third, the Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Appeal Bond in the Burrell medical malpractice proceeding. It required Riverside Hospital, Inc. to post a bond of $1,900,000.00 as a prerequisite for appealing the Judgment Order to be drafted by Mr. Waterman and entered against it shortly.

On January 3, 2013, initially headlined “Patient’s fall leads to $3.5 verdict,” then revised its headline to “A return to ‘Riverside’: Patient’s $3.5M verdict prompts comparisons to 2006 case”. That top article covers Burrell.

The coverage marquees Mr. Waterman in Burrell “using high resolution imaging to dramatize alleged brain injuries for the jury,” including “’cutting edge’ 3.0 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging, applying ‘fractional anisotropy,’ also known as Diffusion Tensor Imaging, and NeuroQuant Analysis”. It also presages: “An appeal of Shirley Burrell’s verdict against the owner of Riverside Regional Medical Center could offer a ruling on the admission of hospital policies and protocols” and on the “admissibility of hospital write-offs of patients bills”. reported further from Mr. Waterman’s Blog that Burrell asserted Riverside Hospital, Inc. was guilty of medical malpractice because it “omitted preventative measures such as relocating the patient closer to the nurses’ station, activating a bed alarm, using a sitter to keep watch, and using soft restraints like a ‘posey vest’.” Re some nurses not liking to use bed alarms despite their proven effectiveness, the online newspaper quoted Mr. Waterman: “Some false positives are a worthwhile inconvenience.” recounted the Virginia Supreme Court upholding Mr. Waterman’s $1,600,000.00 Newport News jury verdict in another patient fall trial against Riverside Hospital, Inc. in 2005, Riverside Hosp., Inc. v. Johnson, 272 Va. 518 (2006). It chronicled too that the “so-called Riverside [v. Johnson] standard [which clarified the law on admission of hospital incident reports] was codified by the General Assembly in 2011”.

If Riverside Hospital, Inc. ultimately seeks to appeal the jury verdict against it in the Burrell brain injury matter, then Mr. Waterman definitely will cross-appeal against both Defendants, Riverside Hospital, Inc. and Nurse Melanie Ames. Some of Plaintiff’s alternate grounds will be first “first impression” issues, as was the case in Riverside.