After a three day trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou, Maine, Shaheen & Gordon attorney Alex Spadinger obtained a $240,000.00 jury verdict on behalf of his clients, Travis and Jami Blair, in their claims against the Aroostook Medical Center. There were no offers of settlement made on behalf of the hospital prior to trial.
The case had been presented to a mandatory medical malpractice pre-litigation screening panel in January of 2014. Following the one-day hearing in Bangor, the panel entered a unanimous decision in favor of the Aroostook Medical Center. Despite the setback, Spadinger filed the complaint in the Aroostook County Superior Court and the case proceeded to trial. The jury was told of the screening panel’s decision.
Travis Blair was injured on Christmas night in 2009. He was removing his son’s present from its cardboard package and was using a knife to cut the small plastic zip ties holding the toy in its box. The knife slipped, severing a major nerve in his left index finger. Travis immediately went to the Aroostook Medical Center’s emergency department. Despite Travis’ reports of numbness, the emergency room doctor failed to diagnose the nerve injury. Travis followed up with his primary care provider, an employee of the Aroostook Medical Center - 10 days after the initial injury. Travis reported numbness in his left index finger to his primary care provider who recognized the numbness was caused by a nerve injury. Believing nothing could be done to repair the nerve, the primary care provider did not refer Travis to a surgeon. Instead, he told Travis he might have numbness in his finger forever.
Eighty-one days after the initial injury, Travis was finally sent to an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of his finger. The surgeon informed Travis that he should have been in surgery to repair the nerve as soon as possible after the injury, and the delay in treatment deprived Travis of his best chance for a surgical repair of the nerve. Ultimately, Travis’ finger was amputated. At trial, the defense argued surgical repair options were still available despite the delay and the amputation was Travis’ decision.
After less than an hour’s deliberation, the jury unanimously rejected the defense’s argument and awarded Travis $230,000 in compensatory damages and his wife $10,000 for loss of consortium, which is the claim for damages for a spouse of someone injured by negligence.