Representative Outcomes

Jarvinen v. Gilliam

San Francisco County Superior Court

A husband and wife were traveling north on Highway 1, near Gualala, California for a Valentine's Day getaway when their vehicle was hit head‑on by defendant Gilliam, a drunk driver whose vehicle had crossed the center line. The wife was killed and the husband injured. Gilliam, who was traveling home from a business meeting, was arrested after the accident with a blood alcohol level of 0.23 percent, nearly three times the legal limit.

The deceased wife had been employed as a hospital radiology technician supervisor. She was very active both in her church and community. She was survived by her husband and four adult children, all of whom brought suit against Gilliam and his employer.

Gilliam's insurance policy only provided a maximum of $200,000 in coverage for this accident. However, his employer had insurance policies with coverage totaling $4 million. The plaintiffs contended that the employer's insurance was available to compensate the family because the accident happened while Gilliam was within the course and scope of his employment. The employer denied that Gilliam was within the course of his employment because he was going home at the time of the accident and was intoxicated.

Shortly before trial, and after the court concluded that the jury would determine whether Gilliam was in the course of his employment, the case settled for cash and periodic payments having a present value of $4 million.

Resolution: $4 Million


Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group

San Francisco Superior Court

Terry Lathrop, who had a misdiagnosed breast cancer, and her husband were awarded nearly $2.7 million by a San Francisco jury. The Lathrop case is unusual because the trial court refused to apply the $250,000 cap to the defendant upon finding that it was not a licensed healthcare provider.

Under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), non‑economic damages caused by licensed health care providers are limited to $250,000. In the Lathrop case, the trial court determined that Healthcare Partners was not a licensed health care provider and refused to reduce the verdict.

After the court's decision, the other defendants settled. Healthcare Partners appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeals. For the first time, the Court of Appeals held that an unlicensed medical group is not a health care provider under MICRA and, to the extent that an unlicensed medical group is found to be directly liable for plaintiff's injury, MICRA does not apply.

Resolution: Confidential


Wraxall v. Family Doctor Medical Group et al

Contra Costa County Superior Court

Plaintiff Brian Wraxall, a nationally recognized forensic DNA expert, had a routine Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA) test ordered by his personal physician, Eric Swann, MD, an employee and shareholder of Family Doctors Medical Group, Inc. Despite an elevated PSA, Dr. Swann failed to diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Plaintiff believed his PSA was normal. During the litigation, it became apparent that Dr. Swann had never seen the PSA result, purportedly because it had not been delivered to him by staff. Dr. Swann had not initialed the result, as required.

Plaintiffs brought various claims including one for direct negligence against Family Doctor Medical Group arising from its failure to properly educate staff and enforce policies designed to insure that blood tests would not be lost and to insist that Dr. Swann meet minimum standards.

The direct negligence claim was crucial to the ultimate resolution of this case. Relying on Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group, plaintiffs argued that because Family Doctor Medical Group was unlicensed, it was not entitled to the protection of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act(MICRA) for the consequences of its direct negligence. Under MICRA, a claim for general damages is limited to $250,000. Without the benefit of MICRA, there is no limitation.

The Lathrop case, which had been tried in San Francisco by plaintiffs' counsel, had resulted in a $2.7 million verdict. One of the defendants appealed. The Court of Appeal held that an unlicensed medical group is not a healthcare provider under MICRA and, to the extent that an unlicensed medical group is found directly liable for plaintiff's injuries, MICRA does not apply. Resolution: In November 2009, the case was mediated with Daniel J. Kelly, Esq. and resolved for a confidential sum.

Resolution: Confidential


Doe v. Roes Corporate Defendants

A man went to an urgent care facility complaining of a sore throat. After being misdiagnosed by a physician's assistant, who failed to order a simple test for strep throat, the man died after his strep throat developed into Scarlet Fever. There was no doctor present to supervise the physician's assistant who was employed by the medical group staffing the clinic.

The urgent care facility was owned by a subsidiary of a major healthcare corporation. Cliff Weingus and his co‑counsel, Jeffrey A. Haas, argued that the corporate subsidiary and the medical group were directly liable for the death because they approved the decision to operate the urgent care facility without a doctor being present. They further argued that because the medical group and corporate subsidiary were not licensed health care providers the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) did not apply.

At trial, the defendants filed numerous pre‑trial motions before the trial court attempting to obtain a ruling that MICRA applied to this case. They wanted MICRA to apply so that, among other things, noneconomic losses would be limited to $250,000. Haas and Weingus argued that, since the defendants were unlicensed and directly liable, the opinion in one of their previous cases entitled Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group would not allow for the application of MICRA. After the court deferred ruling on the MICRA issue, the defendants sought and obtained an intra‑trial mediation at which the case was settled for $2 Million.

Resolution: $2 Million


Glassman v. The Regents of the University of California; Bischoff's Medical Supplies

San Francisco Superior Court

The plaintiff, an 86 year old woman, was being treated for skin ulcerations on her legs due to inadequate blood supply. She was prescribed compression stockings by the UCSF dermatology clinic, which was the wrong treatment for her circulation problem. The plaintiff took the compression stockings to Bischoff's Medical Supplies, where a store employee manager put the compression stockings on her legs. As a result, the plaintiff suffered a severe decrease in the blood supply to her legs causing irreversible damage and underwent multiple surgeries to avoid amputations.

UCSF claimed that the plaintiff had misunderstood the prescription and that Bischoff's should have known not to put the compression stockings on her legs. The case settled shortly before plaintiff's death for a total of $1.4 million, with Bischoff's and UCSF each contributing $700,000.

Resolution: $1.4 Million


Doe Plaintiff v. Roe Medical Providers

The plaintiff visited her personal physician, who worked for a medical clinic, with signs and symptoms that were consistent with thyroid cancer. Before the doctor could work up the patient's case or advise the plaintiff of a potential diagnosis, the clinic terminated the plaintiff as a patient of the group.

Notably, the clinic's office manager had determined that there was an outstanding bill and, without first consulting with either the plaintiff or the physician, summarily notified the plaintiff that she had been terminated as a patient. After protesting the action, the plaintiff was lost to follow up. Ultimately, a biopsy was performed but misread. As a result, the cancer spread outside of the thyroid and was incurable.

Cliff Weingus and his co‑counsel, Jeffrey A. Haas, argued that because the office manager was not a licensed health care provider, and her conduct had caused the injury, the $250,000 limit on non‑economic damages set forth in the Medical Injury Compensation Refore Act (MICRA) did not apply. The case was settled before trial for $1.3 million.

Resolution: $1.3 Million


Doe v. Roe Hospital

The plaintiff underwent what was seemingly an uneventful hysterectomy operation. However she was slow to recover and during her post operative course, the plaintiff manifested signs and symptoms that were consistent with the development of necrotizing fasciitis. Despite the progression of these symptoms, the plaintiff was misdiagnosed.

As a consequence of the misdiagnosis, the necrotizing fasciitis (also referred to as flesh eating bacteria) spread to other parts of the body. Ultimately, a diagnosis was made and proper treatment was instituted but not before plaintiff suffered disfiguring cosmetic injury and disability. This case was settled before trial for $1 million.

Resolution: $1 Million


Doe Plaintiff v. Roe Healthcare Providers

The plaintiff visited various healthcare providers with signs and symptoms indicating that she had cancer of her cervix. Although a PAP test was administered and reported by the laboratory as abnormal, the document was misplaced.

As a result of the malpractice in connection with managing the clinical presentation as well as the laboratory result, the providers failed to follow up and the diagnosis of cancer was missed. Undetected, the cancer spread out of the plaintiff's cervix and was incurable at the time of trial.

This case settled shortly before trial for $1.1 million.

Resolution: $1.1 Million


Doe Employee v. Doe Employer

The plaintiff was an at‑will employee in California. During a reorganization within the company, the plaintiff was placed on leave due to deteriorating health. While out on leave, the company terminated the plaintiff after efforts to negotiate a severance package failed. The case settled before trial for cash and other consideration, having a total value of $1 million.

Resolution: $1 Million


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