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March 8 - Harris Lowry Manton LLP sets record with $18 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict against Southcoast Medical Group

Category: Law

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

March 8, 2018 - Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Jeff Harris and associate Yvonne Godfrey, along with Owen Murphy of Owen Murphy, P.C. and Andrew Bowen of Bowen Painter, LLC, recently set a record with an $18 million verdict from a Chatham County jury on behalf of their client, Ms. Joan Simmons.

In 2014, Ms. Simmons was admitted to a hospital in Savannah because she was experiencing back pain. She also showed signs of an infection. An infectious disease doctor at Southcoast Medical Group, as well as other healthcare professionals, failed to diagnose and treat her spinal abscess, a serious complication of a spinal infection. The untreated abscess put pressure on Ms. Simmons’ spinal cord, causing paralysis in both legs. As a result of their negligence, Ms. Simmons was left permanently paraplegic and unable to walk, according to Atty. Harris. 

Southcoast Medical Group is owned by a consortium of over 70 physicians, with offices in Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties.

Within a few hours of closing arguments, the Chatham County jury returned the largest medical malpractice verdict in the county’s history. They ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Ms. Simmons, finding that Southcoast was liable for failure to diagnose and treat a spinal abscess.

“I think the jury recognized that she was tragically, catastrophically injured and she’s going to be a paraplegic the rest of her life, and as a result, the verdict reflected that,” Harris told a local media company in an interview following the verdict.

The infectious disease doctor no longer works at Southcoast, though she is still practicing in Orlando, Florida, according to Atty. Harris.

Southcoast Medical Group has issued a statement that they “believed the medical evidence supported the doctor’s treatment and decision.”

Harris Lowry Manton LLP has offices in Savannah and Atlanta, and has the distinction of being the only Georgia law firm to secure number one verdicts in six different categories of cases, according to the firm.

While the jury also directed 10% of the award to the St. Joseph’s/Candler, the judge in the case had removed the hospital system from any involvement in the case prior to the trial beginning, and the system faces no liability in the award, according to Scott Larson, Public Relations and Digital Manager for the hospital system.

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