An jury in Fulton County returned a verdict of almost $46,000,000 to the husband of a woman left permanently brain damaged after she suffered heart failure a few days after giving birth. Although attorneys for Northside Hospital had admitted to over $9,800,000 in economic damages they offered only $2,000,000 to settle the case.
The Stone Law Firm represented the plaintiffs. William Stone tried the case with his two sons, Ryals and James Stone as well as firm partner Michael Regas. Dan Huff and Taylor Tribble of Huff, Powell and Bailey represented the hospital.
The case started in 2009, when Shannon Trabue underwent a caesarean section delivery at Northside Hospital. She delivered a healthy girl but afterward continued to have persistently elevated blood pressure despite treatment to lower it. She complained of shortness of breath and was taken for a CT scan where she suffered cardiac arrest. After having no heartbeat for 10 to 12 minutes, she suffered brain damage and now has the comprehension of a five year-old child. She also suffers uncontrolled shaking and cannot walk unassisted.
Trabue’s husband, Keith Trabue, sued Atlanta Women’s Specialists and his wife’s doctor, Stanley Angus, in Fulton County’s State Court. In 2014, the plaintiff’s attorney demanded that the defendants tender their policy limits of $2,000,000. They declined. This decision may lead to an award of attorneys’ fees against the defendants. In Georgia, the “Offer of Judgment” statute allows a party who has offered to settle the lawsuit and, then receives a judgment of 125% or more of the declined to offer, to seek attorney’s fees.
During the trial, the plaintiffs offered the testimony of world class experts including Harvard OBGYN Professor Eric Lichter, University of Texas at Galveston OBGYN Professor George Saade and higher risk pregnancy expert Professor Katherine Wentstrom. Defense experts included Duke University professor J. Allen Cooper, University of Alabama Hospital at Birmingham OBGYN Professor Richard Davis and Elbridge Bills of Atlanta’s Alliance OBGYN.
In closing argument, Stone asked that the jury award the stipulated losses of $9,800,000 as well as damages of one penny per second for the remainder of Trabue’s Life. That amount would have been approximately $13,000,000. Instead, the jury returned a verdict of $45,822,777. The award included $18,000,000 in compensatory damages, $18,000,000 for the Mr. Trabue’s loss of consortium (the love and companionship received from a spouse), and the $9,822,777 in economic losses stipulated to by the defense.
Defense attorney Dan Huff said, “We are very disappointed with the verdict and disagree with the jury’s conclusion.”