Jury awards $6M to woman in medical lawsuit

Sally Clawson suffered brain damage after having outpatient back surgery in March 2007.


DAYTON — A Montgomery County jury awarded $6.3 million to a Springfield woman who suffered permanent brain injuries after an outpatient back surgery in March 2007.

Sally Clawson, 59, now must live with her son, Michael, in Springfield, who has power of attorney. She can walk, but has such little short-term memory that she gets lost if she leaves the house, Cleveland-based attorney Jay M. Kelley said Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Kelley and partners Phillip Kuri and Egan Kilbane represented Clawson and her son at trial.

She suffers seizures, cannot speak, and requires help eating as “people have to help her to actually chew,” Kelley said.

On Friday, the jury found Dr. Lawrence Rothstein and his employer, Riverview Health Institute, 1 Elizabeth Place, liable for her injuries. The jury heard two weeks of testimony, then deliberated seven hours .

The jury decided another physician, Cara Perez, and a nurse, Linda Wiles, were not liable.

Neither Rothstein nor Riverview Health Institute has malpractice insurance, according to court records.

“This is not the outcome anybody wants,” said attorney Michael Lyon of Cincinnati, who represented Rothstein. He called the Clawson family “some of the finest, nicest people I’ve ever met.”

An appeal would be filed because “there’s a couple of rather provocative and complex legal issues that the court of appeals needs to address,” Lyon said.

Attorney David Lockemeyer of Cincinnati, who represented Riverview Health Institute, could not be reached for comment.

Clawson had a 30-minute laser procedure March 2, 2007. While in recovery just after 1 p.m., she complained of pain. Rothstein prescribed 20 mg of morphine in the first 60 minutes, then 20 mg of Valium, a mix Kelley said can create high risk for respiratory problems.

She started vomiting, so she was given additional medications. At 2:45 p.m., she became “nonresponsive to verbal stimuli” and had a “wild look in her eyes,” according to the medical records.

During the next 53 minutes, she drifted in and out of consciousness. At 3:38, a second physician intubated her, allowing more oxygen into her lungs. Had the doctors intubated her before 3 p.m., Clawson would have avoided the profound brain injury, Kelley said.

The verdict allows for:

  • $4 million for future medical care, $73,000 for past care.
  • $182,000 for future lost wages, $50,000 for past lost wages.
  • $1.25 million for past and future pain and suffering.
  • $500,00 for loss of ability to perform daily activities.
  • $250,000 for a consortium claim by her son.



Next Up in Community News

Before his death, man leaves girl, 2, Christmas gifts for the next 14 years
Before his death, man leaves girl, 2, Christmas gifts for the next 14 years

A man in Wales made sure he could bring Christmas cheer to a young neighbor long after his death. >> Read more trending news  Ken Watson, 87, died recently, but the family of 2-year-old Cadi Owens was shocked to learn that their elderly neighbor left Christmas presents to give their daughter for the next 14 years, the BBC reported....
Police: 6-month-old girl survives after dad admits trying to drown her in icy pond
Police: 6-month-old girl survives after dad admits trying to drown her in icy pond

Police in Missouri revived a 6-month-old baby found floating in an icy retention pond and arrested the child’s father, who said he had attempted to drown his daughter, KMBC reported. >> Read more trending news  Jonathon Stephen Zicarelli, 28, of Greenwood, is accused of first-degree domestic assault, the Kansas City...
Watch: Train crashes into tractor-trailer in Texas
Watch: Train crashes into tractor-trailer in Texas

The driver of a tractor-trailer that stalled on railroad tracks in a Texas town escaped injury when his vehicle was hit by a train Tuesday afternoon, KOSA reported. >> Read more trending news  According to Midland officials, the driver of the truck scrambled out of the train’s way in time and called 911, the television station...
Morning frost expected; warmer temperatures later in the day 
Morning frost expected; warmer temperatures later in the day 

Warmer than normal today Rain returns Thursday Rain may mix with snow showers Friday TODAY: A chilly morning with temperatures in the upper 20s and possible frost, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Sunshine early, and then increasing clouds through the day. Highs near 50 degrees, which is much warmer than normal. THURSDAY...
California woman charged after daughter, 8, killed by train
California woman charged after daughter, 8, killed by train

A California woman was arrested on felony child neglect charges Tuesday after her 8-year-old daughter was killed by a train near downtown Fresno, KFSN reported. >> Read more trending news  Joy Frances Collins, 44, had urged her daughter and 9-year-old son to cross the tracks Monday around 6 p.m. because they were trying to catch a bus...
More Stories