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Future Medical Expenses after the Death of the Personal Injury Plaintiff

A recent Court of Appeals decision, issued on January 27, 2012, involved a case that began over ten years ago and determined that awards for future medical expenses cannot be voided after the death of the personal injury plaintiff. A copy the judicial opinion regarding the case can be found here.

The case, Spangler, et al. v. McQuitty (McQuitty II), stems from what was initially a medical malpractice action. McQuitty, a minor, by and through his parents, sued an obstetrician and primary care physician, and their practice, for failing to obtain informed consent to treatment, after which McQuitty suffered severe injuries during his birth. In the first case, McQuitty I, the jury awarded McQuitty $13,078,515.00 in damages; $8,442,515.00 of which accounted for future medical expenses. Various post-trial motions were filed regarding this verdict, but McQuitty died in 2009 prior to the resolution of all proceedings.

Spangler, one of the doctors, subsequently filed motions seeking a new trial or reduction in the award of future medical expenses, arguing that McQuitty’s death changed the posture of the case and an award should not exceed that which would actually be expended. McQuitty’s family argued, conversely, that the death of a personal injury patient should not lead to the reopening of the case or the extinguishment of damages as a matter of public policy.

The Court of Appeals agreed with McQuitty’s family, opining that litigation would continue interminably if they accepted Spangler’s reasoning that the death of a personal injury patient should alter the judgment awarded by the Court.

It takes an experienced medical malpractice attorney to litigate cases involving complex circumstances and various post-trial motions, such as this one. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.