Susan was a veteran of the US Air National Guard who suffered from chronic back pain. With the advice of her doctor at the Veteran’s Administration, she underwent surgery at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Seattle for the placement of a spinal stimulator for her back pain.
Following surgery, Susan complained of pain wrapping around her rib cage. She fell when trying to walk, and a nurse checked on her at midnight and noticed that she has lost all strength in her feet and could not even wiggle her toes. The nurse called the doctor at home at 2:00 a.m. to request permission to increase Susan’s pain medication, but forgot to mention that Susan had lost all strength in her legs. The following morning the doctor found that Susan was paralyzed due to a blood clot which compressed her spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Claims against government-owned hospitals are allowed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, but they’re never easy. The law imposes a different statute of limitations, establishes a claims procedure which the plaintiff must comply with, and most importantly, does not allow a jury trial. Instead, the injured person must bring trial before a federal judge who is being paid by the United States, the party who is being sued.
A lawyer friend brought the case to Mike Maxwell, asking him to bring it to trial. Mike Maxwell took on Susan’s case, taking it to trial in December of 2015. Witnesses for the government testified that Susan’s injuries were the result of her own failure to agree to surgery quickly enough, and they said that Susan refused to undergo a revision surgery, telling VA nurses that she would rather be paralyzed than experience more pain. They also testified that Susan should not be awarded the costs of future treatment for her paralysis because the same hospital that paralyzed her could provide her future treatment free of charge.
After a three-week trial, the parties were prepared to give closing arguments. The United States government relented and offered to settle. Mike was able to negotiate a $4,500,000 settlement.
Susan and her husband told Mike that they loved the outdoors, and they wanted to spend their time camping. With the money Mike was able to provide for them, they purchased a wheelchair equipped RV and now spend their time traveling the country, going from campground to campground. Mike was grateful he made a difference in their lives.