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Baltimore Co. jury awards $18.6M in med-mal case

8-9-17 BALTIMORE CITY, MD-Jonathan Cusson and Julia Arfaa in their office at the Arfaa Law Group.(The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Jonathan Cusson and Julia Arfaa in their office at the Arfaa Law Group. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

A Baltimore County jury has awarded an Abingdon man $18.6 million after he went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain but left with permanent brain damage and could no longer walk.

The jury’s award for Montae Monroe includes $15.6 million in economic damages, and the overall amount would be lowered to $16.3 million because of the state’s cap on noneconomic damages.

Monroe was diagnosed with an inflamed pancreas at Franklin Square Hospital in March 2014 and put on anti-clotting medication for two days, according to the complaint. On the third day, one doctor Monroe off the medicine but did not alert the attending physician of the change, according to the complaint. Monroe was put back on the medicine but a clog developed in his leg, according to the complaint.

Monroe suffered a heart attack while walking in the hospital, causing the clot to move up to his lungs, a “worst-case scenario for someone with his condition,” the lawsuit states. The clot then moved up to his brain, the lawsuit states.

Doctors did not arrive immediately after he fell and it took them more than 20 minutes to revive him, during which the clot could have been broken up before reaching his brain, the lawsuit states.

Monroe, who is now 31 and the father of two young children, was in the hospital for two months and in rehabilitation for 18 months. Since leaving rehab, the former soccer and football coach has been in a residential group home an hour-and-half away from where his parents live in Harford County, according to one of his attorneys.

Monroe has severe cognitive and physical disabilities, “almost like a toddler,” said his Julia R. Arfaa of the Arfaa Law Group in Baltimore.

“He can recognize things but can’t communicate,” she said, adding that he is wheelchair bound and can walk 20 to 30 feet with help.

This case was unusual in that there were separate trials for liability and damages, Arfaa said. The jury heard the liability portion first; upon returning a plaintiff’s verdict, the jury returned the next day to hear testimony for damages.

“The jury knew nothing about our client’s damages in the liability phase. They only knew our client suffered from an anoxic brain injury,” Arfaa said.

The jury deliberated for four hours and 20 minutes for the liability portion and for 50 minutes for the mages phase, she said.

There was another physician as a defendant when the case started, but he was dismissed on the second day of trial, Arfaa said.

Donald DeVries, a lawyer for Franklin Square Hospital did not respond to a request for comment. DeVries is with Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann LLP in Baltimore.

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Monroe vs Willes, et al.

Court: Baltimore County Circuit

Case No.: 03-C-16-001886

Judge: Mickey J. Norman

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff for $18.6 million; $15.6 million in economic damages and $3 million in noneconomic damages

Dates:

Incident: March 2014

Suit filed: Feb. 24, 2016

Verdict: Nov. 3, 2017

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Julia R. Arfaa and Jonathan A. Cusson of the Arfaa Law Group in Baltimore

Defendants’ Attorneys: Donald DeVries of Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP in Baltimore

Count: Negligence


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