Hospital lawsuit settled for nearly $100,000

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By Calen McKinney

The lawsuit a Campbellsville woman filed against Taylor Regional Hospital alleging hospital staff were negligent in treating her has been settled for nearly $100,000 and dismissed.

Phyllis A. Cox of Cherwood Drive alleged in a lawsuit filed in Taylor Circuit Court in February 2007 that TRH failed to follow the standard care for a hospital, which resulted in the amputation of one of her fingers.

The suit was filed on Cox's behalf by Campbellsville attorney Byron D. Wood and Louisville attorney Theodore L. Mussler Jr.

TRH denied any wrongdoing in its answer filed by attorney Thomas N. Kerrick of Bowling Green.

Cox's suit was dismissed Wednesday, June 4 in an agreed order signed by Taylor Circuit Court Judge Doughlas M. George.

According to the order, the case has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties and the claims have been dismissed with prejudice.

According to Black's Law Dictionary, when a claim is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff is not allowed to pursue the claim again.

The settlement was not included in court records. However, the News-Journal requested details of the settlement in a letter to Kerrick last Friday.

On Tuesday, the News-Journal received a letter from Kerrick with the details.

According to the letter, the case was settled for $95,000. However, Kerrick's letter states, only $11,562.52 was paid by Taylor Regional Hospital. The remainder was paid by the hospital's insurance carrier.

The settlement, the letter states, is not an admission of fault by TRH or Cox but a compromise to settle Cox's claim.

"Taylor Regional Hospital concluded that a jury could find one or both parties to have been at fault and divide the liability between the parties," Kerrick stated. "Consequently, Taylor Regional Hospital requested that its insurance carrier resolve the claim so as to avoid the expense of a lengthy trial, and a settlement was reached."

Kerrick declined to comment further.

On Tuesday, Mussler said the settlement is an attempt by TRH to make Cox's situation better and that was appreciated.

However, Mussler said he believes Cox was able to prove that TRH's care in this case was below standard.

"The injury she sustained was just totally and completely unnecessary," he said. "There's no doubt that we proved they were inappropriately treating her."

Mussler said an attorney is never completely happy with a settlement amount, but under the circumstances of Cox's case, he is pleased with the amount.

According to Cox's suit, she received treatment and surgical services at TRH from Feb. 22, 2006, to March 27, 2006.

The suit alleged that during those treatments, Cox received an IV dose of phenergan in her left hand. Cox alleged that the dose infiltrated the tissues on her hand and caused her third and fourth fingers to swell and discolor. Her third finger was amputated on March 22, 2006.

Cox alleged that TRH failed to diagnose her medical condition and then also failed to treat her.

As a result, Cox's suit stated, she suffered permanent and irreparable harm, including severe physical pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Mussler said in March 2007 that he believed TRH was negligent.

"The people we've consulted with said you're not supposed to lose a finger over an infiltrated IV," he said last year. "This is a very serious injury [that is affecting] the use of her hand."

Mussler said he thinks whoever started Cox's IV should have checked to make sure it was done correctly.

"There are simple ways to test [to make sure an IV is done correctly]," he said. "Apparently, they didn't do that. This is not a complicated case at all."

Cox sought compensation for her injuries, punitive damages, court costs and a trial by jury. TRH asked that the suit be dismissed and for reimbursement of court costs and attorney's fees.

Wood did not return phone calls from the News-Journal office.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.