After a three day trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou,
Maine, Shaheen & Gordon attorney Alex Spadinger obtained a $240,000.00
jury verdict on behalf of his clients, Travis and Jami Blair, in their
claims against the Aroostook Medical Center. There were no offers of settlement
made on behalf of the hospital prior to trial.
The case had been presented to a mandatory medical malpractice pre-litigation
screening panel in January of 2014. Following the one-day hearing in Bangor,
the panel entered a unanimous decision in favor of the Aroostook Medical
Center. Despite the setback, Spadinger filed the complaint in the Aroostook
County Superior Court and the case proceeded to trial. The jury was told
of the screening panel’s decision.
Travis Blair was injured on Christmas night in 2009. He was removing his
son’s present from its cardboard package and was using a knife to
cut the small plastic zip ties holding the toy in its box. The knife slipped,
severing a major nerve in his left index finger. Travis immediately went
to the Aroostook Medical Center’s emergency department. Despite
Travis’ reports of numbness, the emergency room doctor failed to
diagnose the nerve injury. Travis followed up with his primary care provider,
an employee of the Aroostook Medical Center - 10 days after the initial
injury. Travis reported numbness in his left index finger to his primary
care provider who recognized the numbness was caused by a nerve injury.
Believing nothing could be done to repair the nerve, the primary care
provider did not refer Travis to a surgeon. Instead, he told Travis he
might have numbness in his finger forever.
Eighty-one days after the initial injury, Travis was finally sent to an
orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of his finger. The surgeon informed
Travis that he should have been in surgery to repair the nerve as soon
as possible after the injury, and the delay in treatment deprived Travis
of his best chance for a surgical repair of the nerve. Ultimately, Travis’
finger was amputated. At trial, the defense argued surgical repair options
were still available despite the delay and the amputation was Travis’ decision.
After less than an hour’s deliberation, the jury unanimously rejected
the defense’s argument and awarded Travis $230,000 in compensatory
damages and his wife $10,000 for loss of consortium, which is the claim
for damages for a spouse of someone injured by negligence.