South Carolina Malpractice Lawsuit Settled Prior to Punitive Damages Phase

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By: AboutLawsuits | Published: November 16th, 2009

A confidential settlement agreement has been reached in a South Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit filed over a botched shoulder surgery. The agreement came after the plaintiff and his wife were awarded $1.6 million, but before the jury determined whether punitive damages should be awarded.

The orthopedic surgery malpractice lawsuit was filed by Bruce and Linda White against Dr. Michael Kissenberth and Dr. Richard J. Hawkins. The complaint alleged that medical negligence during surgery by Dr. Kissenberth caused Bruce White to suffer debilitating shoulder damage. White also accused Dr. Hawkins of failure to obtain informed consent, alleging that he was under the impression that Hawkins, a renowned shoulder surgeon, would be performing the operation, not Kissenberth.

According to a report by The Myrtle Beach Sun News, White injured his shoulder in 2003 while working as the driver of a fuel tanker. He underwent three surgeries to repair damage to the shoulder, but his condition only got worse after he suffered damage to his axillary nerve following the third surgery in October 2004 at Steadman Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas

The jury had awarded Bruce White $1.1 million in compensatory damages for the nerve injury suffered during the shoulder surgery, and his wife was awarded $500,000 for loss of consortium. The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement before the trial was set to enter the punitive damages phase.

Punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are rare, as the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant acted with reckless disregard or showed egregious conduct in their actions, which directly contributed to the plaintiff’s injury.

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