Boy and His Family Awarded $44 Million in Medical Negligence Suit
By Lynn Fugaro, Staff Writer
An Athens, Ohio boy and his family have been awarded $44.5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit in which the boy’s undiagnosed ear infection in 2014 caused a brain infection so severe it left the all of the boy’s body paralyzed except for his eyes. He now requires “total care for all activities of daily living” and likely will for the rest of his life. A jury awarded Bradley Metts, now 14, and his parents, Nikki Metts of Albany, Ohio and Danny Metts II of Athens, Ohio over $44 million because Athens Medical Laboratory, Inc. was found negligent.
According to Gerry Leeseberg, attorney for the Metts family, prior to the two-week trial, two other health care organizations, settlements were reached with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and University Medical Associates, Inc. in Athens, Ohio. Leeseberg said that terms of the settlements are confidential, but that any amount the Metts received from those settlements will be deducted from the $44.5 million jury award.
Negligent Medical Facilities
The verdict documents found that Athens Medical Laboratory was negligent because it failed to provide “STAT labs in a timely manner according to usual policies, procedures and/or guidelines.”
Jurors found that UMA and Nationwide Children’s Hospital were negligent, although the jury breakdown of assignment of negligence lists 50% of the responsibility with Athens Medical Laboratory, 15% with UMA, 5% with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and 30% with Staci James, a certified nurse practitioner who worked at UMA at the time.
Court documents indicate that several medical experts testified that AML made a mistake and “failed to perform their services in a reasonable and prudent manner” by not returning certain lab results in a timely fashion. The lab results in question were ordered by Nurse Practitioner Staci James on a “STAT” basis which means the results were to be returned to Athens Medical Laboratory within two hours; however, those results were not returned until six days later. UMA was deemed negligent because the clinic did not follow up with Athens Medical Laboratory when the results were not returned in the time frame ordered for STAT test results.
Because the test results were not returned in a timely manner, the bacterial infection in young Bradley Metts continued to progress and spread into his brain.
In addition to the problems with the STAT test results that involved Staci James, UMA and Athens Medical Laboratory, Nationwide Children’s Hospital failed to provide certain monitoring after the initial surgery that Metts received, and jurors found this led to swelling in Bradley’s brain that ultimately led to his paralysis.
$44.5 Million Award
In total, the jurors found that the Metts family had suffered a total of $24.5 million in economic damages and another $20 million in non-economic and future damages. While it’s still not known if the full award will be collected, the three medical facilities involved have significant insurance policies to cover the amounts awarded in the verdict.