WVa man left paralyzed after spine surgery wins $17M verdict

March 31, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A jury in West Virginia has awarded $17.2 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit to a man who was left paralyzed after undergoing spinal surgery and later suffered a stroke.

The Kanawha County jury made the finding last week in a lawsuit filed by Michael Rodgers of Pocahontas County against Dr. John R. Orphanos.

According to his lawsuit, Rodgers was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center in June 2017 for treatment of injuries in a motorcycle accident. Rodgers was able to move his arms and legs but lost motor function and sensation to his lower extremities after a first surgery. A second surgery left him a paraplegic permanently.

Orphanos, a neurosurgeon, failed to order a pre-surgical MRI of Rodgers’ spine to determine whether there were existing or potential problems and didn’t use a surgical monitoring device, the lawsuit said.

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As a result, Orphanos “cobbled together a surgical plan in ignorance of essential underlying medical information that was discoverable through ordering the appropriate medical tests required by the standard of care,” the lawsuit said.

The jury found that Orphanos was negligent and that his actions contributed to Rodgers’ stroke in July 2020.

“This case sets an important precedent because it shows that when medical professionals provide substandard care to their patients, then they can expect to be held to account for their carelessness,” Greg Haddad, the lead attorney for Rodgers, said in a statement. “Although his health will never be restored, this verdict sends a message to doctors and institutions who try to take shortcuts with patients and by doing so, play with their lives.”

A telephone message left with Orphanos through his office in Charleston was not immediately returned Thursday.