Ohio hospital to pay $650,000 settlement in botched kidney transplant case

Posted
by Charles Miller

The University of Toledo Medical Center has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle a medical malpractice claim regarding the accidental disposal of a healthy kidney that was meant for the donor’s sister. Sarah Fudacz needed the kidney and her brother, Paul Fudacz Jr., was the donor. Sarah, Paul Jr., and their parents, Paul, Sr. and Ellen Fudacz, will collectively receive the $650,000, according to terms of a settlement recently approved by the Ohio Court of Claims.

Ms. Fudacz was 24 at the time of the 2012 kidney-transplant surgery. She was supposed to have been given a kidney taken from her younger brother that was considered a perfect match. However, after it was removed, the kidney was mistakenly thrown away by a hospital nurse.

Her brother, Paul Jr., sought damages he suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with only one kidney, all in vain. Ms. Fudacz did received another kidney but it is not a perfect match and thus will not last as long as her brother’s kidney would have. During the months between the botched transplant surgery and her successful transplant, Ms. Fudacz endured additional dialysis, four surgeries related to dialysis, and the uncertainty of whether she would find a suitable kidney.

The settlement amount was effectively limited by state law because the incident happened at a public facility. In lawsuits against a public institution, Ohio law limits the amount of noneconomic damages (such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress) that may be recovered to $250,000 per person. There is no limit on awards for economic damages such as lost wages and medical bills in such cases. An Ohio law regarding medical malpractice claims in general (i.e., against a private hospital) limits noneconomic claims to $500,000 per plaintiff and also limits a hospital’s total liability for noneconomic damages to $1 million.

Damages recoverable for medical malpractice vary from state to state

The American Tort Reform Association and state and federal Chambers of Commerce have spent millions of dollars throughout the country on political campaigns to push for damage caps like the law in Ohio. More than half of U.S. states have passed some form of a law that limits the amount of money a medical malpractice plaintiff can receive after a successful lawsuit. In most states, the cap limits only non-economic damages, which means things like pain and suffering. However, there are also states with laws that broadly limit all types of damages that might be recovered in medical malpractice lawsuit.

In addition to laws regarding damages, the time period for bringing medical malpractice lawsuits (the statute of limitations) can also vary from state to state. Furthermore, many states have also enacted special laws requiring a plaintiff to comply with certain procedural requirements (such as first submitting the claim to a review board or obtaining an affidavit from a medical expert substantiating the claim) before prosecuting a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is imperative that applicable rules be followed when pursuing a claim for medical malpractice.

Do you have a medical malpractice claim?

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by filling out our case evaluation form for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

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Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Results of other cases do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.