A Baltimore jury awarded a security guard more than $5.2 million after a misdiagnosis of a leg injury led to an amputation days later.
But Kevin Tolson will receive $1.5 million, the “high” of a high-low agreement reached Friday between the two sides during the jury’s four hours of deliberations. Lawyers for Tolson and Dr. Prudence Jackson and physician’s assistant Shah Krupa agreed Tolson would receive no less than $750,000 but no more than $1.5 million depending on the jury’s verdict and that neither side would appeal the verdict.
The agreement helped provide closure for Tolson, who felt vindicated by the verdict, one of his lawyers said.
“It’s been a long struggle for him,” said Laura G. Zois, of Miller & Zois LLC in Glen Burnie.
Tolson was working at a federal building in Baltimore when he was injured on Dec. 3, 2009. He was walking across a collapsible barrier designed to prevent vehicles from hitting the building when a colleague accidentally raised the barrier in emergency mode, meaning it shot up quickly, according to Zois. Tolson’s left knee dislocated and then went back into place as his leg was tangled in the barrier, according to Zois.
Several colleagues helped remove Tolson, who was taken to Saint Agnes Hospital and seen by Jackson and Krupa. Tolson was diagnosed with a knee strain and was released two hours later, Zois said. X-rays did not show a fracture or dislocation of his knee, but Zois said that was to be expected since the knee was already in place. An MRI a few days later would show all of the ligaments in Tolson’s knee were “shredded,” Zois said.
Tolson returned home and started to experience swelling, numbness and tingling in his left leg, according to Zois. A doctor examining Tolson on Dec. 5 found no pulse in his leg and sent him back to Saint Agnes, where a vascular surgeon performed a 13-hour operation in an unsuccessful effort to save his leg. Tolson was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center, where doctors first amputated his foot in an effort to save his leg and then, when that failed, amputated his leg above the knee, Zois said.
During the eight-day trial before Baltimore City Circuit Judge Stephen Sfekas, the defense argued Tolson did not adequately explain his injury upon arrival at Saint Agnes and Jackson and Krupa could not have known he had a vascular injury based on what was presented to them, said Zois, who tried the case with Rodney M. Gaston. But Krupa, in her deposition, said she suspected Tolson dislocated his knee when he came to the hospital.
The jury of three men and three women also were swayed by Tolson and his “stoic” testimony, according to Zois. Tolson was able to return to his job after the incident, passing all of the necessary physical tests with his prosthetic limb.
“He pretty much refuses to let this injury define him,” Zois said.
Robert H. Bouse Jr., a lawyer for Jackson and Krupa, did not respond to a request for comment. Bouse is a partner with Anderson, Coe & King LLP in Baltimore.
Saint Agnes and a hospital nurse were dismissed from the case before the trial began. Zois said she is still deciding whether to appeal their dismissals.
KEVIN TOLSON V. ST. AGNES HEALTHCARE INC., ET AL.
Baltimore City Circuit
Plaintiffs’ verdict for $1.5 million based on a high-low agreement; jury awarded $5.2 million
Event: December 2009
Suit filed: Dec. 19, 2012
Settlement order: May 23, 2014
Laura G. Zois and Rodney M. Gaston of Miller & Zois LLC in Glen Burnie
Robert H. Bouse Jr. and Gregory L. VanGeison of Anderson, Coe & King LLP in Baltimore