BELLEVILLE, IL (December 2019) — On Nov. 26 Medical Malpractice Attorneys, Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. obtained a $12,050,000 verdict on behalf of a Dupo man who suffered a permanent spinal cord injury after doctors failed to diagnose his medical condition in a timely manner.
The jury’s decision, which includes $3.5 million for future medical expenses, $3 million for pain and suffering and $3 million for loss of a normal life, makes for the highest medical malpractice verdict in the history of St. Clair County.
Plaintiff Ali Almefleh, 40, an American citizen from Jordan, is now permanently disabled, with a foot drop, significant leg weakness that requires use of a cane, and neurogenic bowel/bladder dysfunction that requires daily catheterization. He also suffers from severe depression and anxiety as a result of his injuries.
Almefleh moved to the United States in 2003 and has two sons with his wife, Nadiah Sabrah, who was also a plaintiff in the case.
“We were privileged to represent Nadiah and Ali who have suffered a horrible injustice as a result of a broken medical system that puts profits over people. We are extremely grateful to the jury for returning a just and fair verdict for our clients,” said firm partner Samantha Unsell, who in 2016 filed the suit against defendants HSHS Medical Group and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, alleging negligence in their emergency room care.
Physicians Kristina Naseer and Kristy Holland, along with physician’s assistant Stephanie Armstrong, were dismissed as defendants before trial.
Unsell, along with Partners Thomas Q. Keefe III and Thomas Q. Keefe Jr., established the following at trial:
On April 23, 2015, Almefleh went to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital emergency room with signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. This included new onset leg weakness and early evidence of a foot drop, saddle anesthesia (which is numbness in the perineal region), trouble with urination and sexual dysfunction.
Almefleh was evaluated by Armstrong and then discharged from the emergency room.
Later that day, he had a pain management appointment at HSHS Medical Group with Naseer. Again, he exhibited signs and symptoms of cauda equina, as documented by Naseer at the time.
But instead of calling for an immediate neurosurgical consultation, Naseer gave him an injection for the pain.
Ultimately, Almefleh returned to the emergency room on April 26. He was transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but it was too late. He suffered permanent injuries as a result of the delay.
The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Keefe law firm were able to show at trial that Naseer’s failure to diagnose cauda equina syndrome was due to a culture of “assembly line medicine” at HSHS Medical Group eventually resulting in an injured patient.
This included evidence of a quota system in which medical professionals are asked to perform a certain number of procedures in order to get their full salary. Notably, administering an injection to Almefleh got her closer to that quota than if she had called for a neurosurgical consultation.
Jurors also learned that Naseer had dictated a note describing how she had performed the procedure before it had actually happened. At trial, she blamed this medical negligence on a computer error.
The jury deliberated for four hours before returning a verdict against HSHS, which also included $1 million in emotional distress, $800,000 in future lost wages, $600,000 for loss of services and $150,000 for loss of companionship and sexual relations.
At trial, both defendants had denied they were liable and HSHS suggested that Almefleh’s injuries were worth only $1.3 to $2.2 million.
The case was tried before St. Clair County Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf.
“The jury – by returning the highest medical malpractice lawsuit verdict in the history of the county – made a statement that assembly line medicine was, and is, unacceptable,” Unsell said.
The previous record amount, and now second highest medical malpractice verdict in county history, was also obtained by the Keefe law firm. Read about our other medical malpractice victories.
Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. is a law firm that focuses on personal injury and medical malpractice cases resulting in catastrophic injury and death, winning over $750 million in verdicts and settlements for its clients and their family members. Visit our medical malpractice page to learn more about our approach to medical malpractice claims or call us at 618-236-2221.
Ali Almefleh & Nadiah Sabrah v. HSHS Medical Group, Inc. & HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, No. 16-L-249, Circuit Court of St. Clair County.