$17 Million Judgment In Medical Malpractice Case For Gunshot Victim

Our medical malpractice lawyers have recently discussed several medical malpractice issues on this blog, and we noticed yet another Georgia case that caught our attention. The family of a DeKalb County man was awarded $17 million for the malpractice of a physician's assistant that caused the brain injuries of their son.

What happened to 24-year-old Sheriod Merritt is a tragic story. In 2008, when he was 19-years-old, he was shot in the face by a stray bullet from a drive by shooting outside a Wal-Mart in Lovejoy. He was shot through the cheek and could speak, and his mother said he appeared fine just after the shooting. The wound was determined not life-threatening. Merritt was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where the doctors told the family he would be okay after surgery, and when he woke up he could be taken home to recover. The young man was apparently very anxious about the surgery and told his father that he loved him before being taken away. When Patrick and Angela Merritt came to pick up their son the next day, he was in a coma. They claim the doctors never told them what happened to Sheriod during the surgery or what went wrong. All they knew was that their son, who was still talking and walking the day before even after being shot, had suffered some kind of brain trauma and could hardly speak and could not walk anymore.

The Merritt's turned to the legal system to try to get answers about their son. The case was tried in the DeKalb County State Court with Judge Wayne Purdom. In their lawsuit, the family alleged that the anesthesiologist, Dr. James Richardson, from Emory University Hospital and a physician's assistant, Richard Nardi, at Grady Hospital, didn't follow proper procedure when Sheriod was waking up after his surgery. The family says a preventable error with his breathing tube caused Sheriod to go without oxygen for seven to eight minutes, causing the brain damage. The hospital contends that Sheriod woke from the anesthesia violently, fighting with medical personnel, at which point he dislodged his own breathing tube. The statement said the medical personnel were only doing their job by acting quickly in order to save Sheriod's life.

The jury in the court case found the Merritt's arguments compelling and awarded the family more than $17 million after finding the anesthesiologist and physician's assistant liable, as well as Grady Hospital and Emory University Hospital. Sheriod's mother, Angela, told reporters, however, "I really can't give you a total that would make up for what we lost.

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