In 1995 Gracie, a five-year old, was hand feeding a pet burro when it unexpectedly grabbed her by the abdomen and shook her. She was CareFlited to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas where she underwent an exploratory laparotomy and had a portion of her bowel removed. Following the operation she could not move her legs. A neurosurgeon ordered an emergency MRI. Parkland's MRI was down and she transferred to Children's Medical Center for the study, which took place at approximately 1:00 a.m. The on-call radiologist declined to come in. The Medical Director had instructed him not to come in on neuroradiology procedures and she was to be called. Later that morning it was discovered Gracie had no pulses in her legs. She was taken to emergency surgery whereupon a clot was discovered in her aorta. The surgeon contacted the Medical Director of the Department of Radiology at Children's. He had heard that an MRI had been performed but he had not seen it. The Director claimed she was unaware of the procedure having been performed and couldn't locate the film. The MRI reading room had no log-in or log-out procedure that would enable a radiologist to determine whether a film was placed in the reading room to be read or even if one had been done. Children's also did not have a weekend policy regarding the reading of MRI's. A duplicate set was run out and clearly showed the clot in the aorta. Dr. Steven Lerner & Associates provided a vascular surgeon who testified at trial that the child's leg could have been saved without deficit if the film had been read and reported within 24 hours. Children's claimed that Parkland doctors were caring for Gracie and they should have discovered the clot clinically. Children's claimed it had no duty to make sure the MRI was timely read by a radiologist employed by the medical school. The UT Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Memorial settled early in the suit for a confidential amount. The jury returned a verdict of $67.5 million including $50 million in punitive damages.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs:
Keith Lemons, Esq. and Andrew Rodriguez, Esq.
Law Office of Keith Lemons
Fort Worth, TX