P.I. Pulse: A Major Award and an Award of an Amphibious Nature

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Let’s start with the largest award we will be discussing in this blog. A certain HMO (which is an acronym for “health maintenance organization”) had been sued by patients that had been infected by hepatitis C as part of an outbreak at a string of colonoscopy clinics, which were operated by a doctor who failed to meet procedural standards (i.e., the doctor reused syringes and cut other regulatory corners). Hepatitis C—currently incurable—is a disease that attacks the liver, an organ in the body that serves primarily to detoxify and engage in protein synthesis. Two women contracted the awful disease after undergoing routine endoscopic procedures at one of the clinics. The discovery of the disease in these two women initiated a scare that led to upward of 50,000 patients needing to be checked for the disease. The women who had contracted the disease sued the HMO, a subsidiary of United Healthcare, a giant in the world of American medical insurance, for failing to protect the patients against dangerous doctors.

The jury awarded the victims $24 million for their damages. An attorney for the patients, however, urged the jury to consider awarding punitive damages—damages that serve a punitive role in that they might dissuade the company from engaging in further risky behavior. The attorney compared the HMO to Lindsay Lohan, the troubled starlet who repeatedly receives mild slaps on the wrist yet continues to engage in reckless behavior. Ostensibly, the attorneys for the patients deemed the $24 million award a mere slap on the wrist, considering United Healthcare is valued at tens of billions of dollars. The jury, convinced of the argument and the HMO’s negligence, awarded an additional $500 million in punitive damages.

Next, we are going to discuss a case that is, if nothing else, an example of justice being served in an atypical, yet not insignificant, case. Meet our victim: a man from Italy who had a childhood traumatizing experience that involved frogs, during which a neighbor angrily chased after the later victim while carrying bullfrogs. Apparently, the traumatic experience has led to a lifelong fear of frogs. Recently, a developer of a nearby subdivision began draining water onto the later victim’s property—this draining of the water was, as the later victim knew, an ideal breeding ground for frogs. Frogs began to infest the victim’s property, covering his lawn and driveway, forcing him to remain inside for fear of the amphibians. Eventually, the victim sued the township as well as the development company. The victim told members of the jury that during the winter he is fine, but during the warmer parts of the year he feels like a prisoner trapped in his home, unable to go outside. Based on the evidence in the case, the jury awarded the victim $1.6 million.

This blog has discussed justice served; one instance of an award punishing a behemoth medical insurance corporation, and the other punishing a small town over a frog infestation. There is no case too big or too small that can prevent justice from being sought and served. If you have been injured by the wrongdoing of another, please contact us at the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or daronberg@build.simple.biz.