Estate of Alabama man who died of allergic reaction to MRI contrast agent awarded $4.5M in damages

by Jay Pate

Cecil Roy Thomas died in 2008 when what was supposed to be a routine MRI turned fatal. Thomas was a patient at the Coastal Neurological Institute in Mobile, Alabama. He was being treated for back pain.

As part of the usual MRI process, he was administered an MRI contrast agent, a chemical used to enhance the visibility of the body. However, Thomas had a rapid and severe allergic reaction to the MRI contrast agent chemical. A nurse called 911 and Thomas was eventually taken to Springhill Medical Center where he later died.

His estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging medical malpractice on the part of the clinic. The estate alleged that the clinic should have been but was completely unprepared for such an allergic reaction. Thomas’ death was the result of the failure to immediately administer epinephrine, a common drug used to treat allergic reactions, according to the lawsuit.

At trial, the estate presented evidence that Thomas did not receive epinephrine for more than 16 minutes and not until after the ambulance paramedics arrived. The jury awarded $4.5 million in damages to the estate against the clinic. The jury awarded both compensatory damages and punitive damages.

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