Recent Success: Thaddeus

Tooth extraction leads to brain damage and $17.5M payout

October 22, 2015

The largest malpractice payout in 10 years was for $17.5 million. It was awarded in 2012 to a Philadelphia Marine Corps veteran left permanently paralyzed by a routine tooth extraction.

Christopher Ellison, who had served in the military for 20 years, went to the Philadelphia VA in 2007 to have several teeth removed. His blood pressure was dangerously low, but physicians went ahead with the procedure. He had a catastrophic stroke on his drive home and crashed his car two-tenths of a mile from the VA.

Home video supplied by Ellison’s family shows the extent of his brain damage. He struggles to walk, communicate, or even peel a banana on his own. He requires around-the-clock care.

“I’ve never had a client where he wouldn’t have traded the money he received to for the injury,” said Ellison’s attorney, Shanin Specter. “The injury is always worse than the benefit of the financial compensation.”

Another large payout went to J.R. Howell, who was rushed to the Memphis VA emergency room in 2006 with abdominal pain, then sent home without a proper diagnosis. A neighbor stopped by to check on him at home and found him unresponsive.
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“She said, ‘Honestly I thought you were dead,’ ” he said.

He was rushed to the hospital again and ended up in a coma. When he awoke he was partially paralyzed. He was awarded $5.7 million last year.

Howell was drafted during the Vietnam War.

“We’ve seen battle. We’ve seen combat. And why do we have to come back home and fight when we come back home just to get proper medical care?” he said.

When Army veteran Thaddeus Raysor had an X-ray done at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System in August 2006, his widow said the staff failed to diagnose a 1-centimeter lesion on his left lung. They missed it again in 2007. By November 2008, it had grown to 8 centimeters, and the radiologist referred it for further evaluation.

But the studies weren’t ordered, and Raysor wasn’t told, according to his family.

By August 2009, a final X-ray showed the mass had grown to 9.5 centimeters and spread through both lungs. Raysor died Nov. 14, 2009, more than three years after his initial X-ray.

His family was awarded $875,000 last year.

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