The qualms of one juror blocked what could have been an “eight-figure” verdict for a former Wellington woman who has been in a permanent vegetative state since being treated at St. Mary’s Medical Center four years ago, an attorney for her family said Thursday.
After a mistrial was declared last week in the multi-million medical malpractice case against the West Palm Beach hospital, four of the six jurors agreed to meet with the lawyers, said attorney Philip Gold, who represents 65-year-old Kwai Ling Chan-Leung’s ex-husband, who is also her guardian.
One juror admitted he refused to join the five others who agreed to a multi-million-dollar verdict against the hospital, Gold said. The lone holdout said he didn’t think either side had proven exactly what caused Chan-Leung’s catastrophic injuries, the lawyer said.
During the roughly three-week trial, Gold argued that the hospital didn’t have the proper equipment on hand when Chan-Leung was rushed into surgery in March 2013. She was brought to St. Mary’s in critical condition from Jupiter Medical Center after officials there agreed they were ill-equipped to deal with her brain hemorrhage.
Attorney Michael Mittlemark, who represents the hospital, argued that Chan-Leung’s condition was grave when she arrived at St. Mary’s. In court papers, he said doctors warned her family there was a 50 percent chance she would die in surgery and an 80 percent chance she would be left in a vegetative state. Despite the odds, family members insisted they wanted doctors to try to save her, Mittlemark said.
Pui Leung Chan, who was married to Chan-Leung, told the jury that the family was never given such a grim prognosis, Gold said. Had the hospital had the proper equipment, it could have stopped Chan-Leung from losing a liter of blood during surgery, he said. The massive blood loss caused “a cascade of events” that left Chan-Leung in a permanent vegetative state.
Gold asked the jury to award $3.5 million to $11.5 million so Chan could care for his ex-wife at home. She now lives at long-term nursing home in Queens, N.Y. He suggested the jury also award a similar amount, or even twice as much, for pain and suffering.
While a settlement could be reached, Gold said he is prepared to take the case to trial again.