Ratzan Law Group Verdicts and Settlements

Ratzan Law Group has obtained more than $200 million in verdicts and settlements. Our firm is dedicated to honorable and unyielding representation of patients, consumers, and catastrophically injured individuals in state and federal courts due to:

Medical Malpractice

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The recent $23 million award in a medical malpractice lawsuit for a mother whose daughter was born with a severe brain injury is believed to be the largest civil jury verdict in the county’s history.Iala Suarez, represented by the Miami-based Ratzan Law Group, filed the civil suit in 2013 against Peace River Regional Medical Center (now Bayfront Health Port Charlotte) and Dr. Michael Coffey, a physician there. Suarez had gone to the hospital in August 2010 seeking medical services when she was six months pregnant.


Despite Suarez visiting multiple times with high blood pressure, high protein levels, decreased fetal movement and other issues, no one at the hospital, namely Coffey, offered proper care, the suit alleged.

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Former Miami Dolphins wide receiver O.J. McDuffie sued team physician John Uribe on a medical malpractice theory claiming that Dr. Uribe acted below the standard of care when he treated him in 1999 for an injured toe and, as a direct result, McDuffie’s football career ended prematurely.

The injury, known as turf toe, came on Nov. 21, 1999. Dr. Uribe injected the toe to numb the pain, retaped the toe and sent the plaintiff back into the game without making a diagnosis. In the days after the injury, Uribe sent McDuffie for MRI examinations of the toe. Dr. Uribe diagnosed completely ruptured ligaments in the toe from a review of the films, yet neither the plaintiff nor the Dolphins’ medical staff were told of this diagnosis. Dr. Uribe informed the plaintiff that he would heal without incident and have a complete recovery.

McDuffie continued to play, with Dr. Uribe injecting the plaintiff’s toe, until the Dolphins, for unrelated reasons, hired a new team physician. The new doctor looked at the toe and the MRI and immediately sent McDuffie to a specialist, who recommended surgery to repair the ruptured ligament.

After two surgeries, McDuffie’s toe prevented him from playing and ended his career. The plaintiff had suffered joint surface damage during the time between the injury and surgery that could not be repaired. McDuffie was officially released from the Dolphins in February 2002.

McDuffie was awarded a $11.5 million verdict in compensatory damages.

Shirlyn Gallagher, a 53-year old insulin dependent diabetic, suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Jacksonville’s Baptist Medical Center, where she underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Recovering in the post-operative ICU on the fourth post-operative day, her doctor ordered a change in her insulin medication. The nurses violated hospital policy and also failed to follow the doctor’s orders.

Despite serving Mrs. Gallagher her dinner, the intensive care nurses failed to administer any insulin to Mrs. Gallagher for five and a half hours and also failed to perform any blood testing. As a result, Mrs. Gallagher’s metabolism and electrolytes became out of control. She suffered a cardiac arrest requiring forty-five minutes of resuscitation. She suffered profound brain injury. After a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in Mrs. Gallagher’s favor in the amount of $8.8 million.

Needing pancreatic surgery known as a Whipple procedure for a benign pancreatic tumor, Jane Doe, a 47 year old woman, underwent surgery at a local hospital.

Neither the hospital nor the surgeons had any significant experience performing Whipple procedures. During the surgery, the procedure was escalated to include a mesenteric vein graft with a jugular vein transplant. The graft failed, causing massive clotting and death of Jane Doe’s digestive organs.

The damage required a four organ (intestine, stomach, liver, and pancreas) transplant. The case was settled for $5.5 million with the hospital and doctors.

Paul Doe arrived at an emergency room facility with severe back pain. He was diagnosed by the physician with musculoskeletal strain/sprain and was subsequently discharged. Although the treating nurse recognized that Mr. Doe’s condition was more serious than diagnosed by the doctor, he did not object and allowed the discharge to proceed. Mr. Doe returned two hours later unable to feel anything below his chest. Six hours passed before Paul was seen by a neurosurgeon who determined that his neurologic function could not be salvaged. Mr. Doe was rendered a paraplegic. He is confined to a wheelchair and has lost sexual, bladder and bowel function. The case settled for $4.95 million.

James Kornak, a 35-year-old man, was admitted to Broward General Medical Center to have a pacemaker implanted. The first procedure was unsuccessful, and he was scheduled for the procedure again the next day. Overnight his respiratory condition decompensated but nonetheless he was taken into surgery the next day. He suffered respiratory failure and died 17 days later. Mr. Kornak left behind a wife and a 5-year-old daughter.

The Estate of Mr. Kornak tried the wrongful death suit against the Anesco anesthesiology group and two of the group’s anesthesiologists. A jury brought a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded the estate a judgment of approximately $4.6 million.

Ms. Alley underwent liposuction at the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Fort Lauderdale in 2000. During the procedure Alley’s intestine was unknowingly pierced, causing toxic waste to spread through her body for nearly two weeks before it was discovered. Alley’s infection and perforated intestine required extensive surgeries and hospitalizations for the next year. Over time, because she was bedridden for so long, she developed bedsores and circulatory problems. The damage required the amputation of both legs. The case was settled for $3 million.

Jennifer Doe, age 52, came off a plane from Haiti with fever and chills. She was rushed by ambulance to the defendant hospital.

An internist and infectious-disease doctor were assigned. Anti-malaria medication was ordered, but an incorrect type for the strain of malaria in this case. The nursing staff, meanwhile, failed to administer any anti-malaria medication (even the inappropriate kind) for almost 24 hours after it was ordered.

Mrs. Doe died in the hospital of malaria due to lack of anti-malaria treatment. The case was resolved with the hospital and doctors for $2.8 million.

Following a bout with cancer, Navy veteran Susan Atkisson received reconstructive breast surgery on April 19, 2007, at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center. While in recovery at VAMC, she suffered a morphine overdose and prolonged period of respiratory depression. This led to an episode of hypoxemia which caused Susan Atkisson to suffer a permanent brain injury.

Due to her injuries, Atkisson requires permanent medical care, therapy and treatment. She will also require future attendant care, supervision and assistance because her brain injury makes her dangerous to herself and others, and also because she cannot properly care for herself due to significant lapses in judgment, memory and executive function.

Susan Atkisson and her husband, John Atkisson, brought a medical malpractice case against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act. 28 U.S.C. 2674. The case was tried as a bench trial. The court awarded the plaintiff and her husband a total of $1,674,242 in damages. The award included $924,242 for past and future medical care and $750,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

John Doe, a 70-year substitute teacher in South Florida went to his chiropractor after a round of golf because he felt a sharp pain in his neck followed by pins and needles in his right hand. The chiropractor adjusted his neck and sent him home, but the pain persisted. After returning to the chiropractor the next day for another adjustment, Mr. Doe felt his right side go weak and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed with a spinal cord injury. As a result, Mr. Doe was rendered a functional quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent, unable to void and requires the use of a feeding tube. He has had several surgeries and continues to receive treatment in hopes of some sense of recovery.

The plaintiff brought a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging the injuries were caused by an improper adjustment to his neck, stating also that the chiropractor should have ordered an MRI or sent Mr. Doe to a neurological specialist when he returned for the second adjustment, and the delay in treatment caused the permanent injuries. The case was settled for $1 million (total of all insurance available).

Jane Doe (a registered nurse at the hospital where the malpractice was committed) came to the hospital complaining of severe stomach pain. She was admitted for observation by the nursing staff. The physician and nurses negligently missed the signs and symptoms that Jane Doe needed immediate surgical intervention. 39 hours later, her condition was finally diagnosed and she was rushed to surgery. Due to the delay, Jane Doe lost four and a half feet of her bowel leaving her incontinent for life. This case was settled for $900,000.

There is also a second act of malpractice that has not been resolved. Upon readmission to this same hospital two weeks later, Jane Doe was overdosed on an anticoagulant. As a result of the overdose, she developed a bleed that for two days compressed on her sciatic nerve causing her to have permanent sciatic neuropathy. She can now only walk with the assistance of a cane and developed a complex pain syndrome. The case went to trial, and after 2 weeks the jury was hung. The case is scheduled to be re-tried in December 2011.

Birth Injury

Jadell Doe was born without complication. He was discharged with inappropriate follow-up instructions provided to his parents by the defendants. Thereafter, Jadell Doe’s parents noticed lethargy and yellowing of their son’s eyes. They brought him immediately to the emergency department of the defendant hospital where he presented with excessive bilirubin levels. Due to an improper delay in treatment, Jadell Doe suffered extreme and prolonged hyperbilirubinemia causing irreversible and catastrophic brain damage due to kernicterus. The plaintiffs settled without the defendants for a global sum of $11.5 million.

The plaintiff in this case was admitted to the hospital because she had gone into early labor and her baby was breached. The doctor overseeing the plaintiff did not immediately schedule a Cesarean section, instead ordering medication to prolong the labor and delivery. During this delay, the baby’s heart rate was weak, which the hospital’s nurses failed to monitor and communicate with the doctor. The plaintiff was scheduled for the C-section more than 11 hours after her admittance. Neither the anesthesiologist nor the neonatologist were notified until the time of her operation, creating further delays. As a result of these delays, the plaintiff was forced to undergo the C-section while awake, with only local anesthetic applied to the skin. The plaintiff’s baby was delivered with no heart rate and its umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. Although the child was resuscitated, it suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (major permanent brain injury) and permanent respiratory injuries. The ensuing lawsuit against the hospital alleged negligence and failure to follow proper protocols in its care of both the plaintiff and child. The case was settled for $5.125 million.

$4.14 million global settlement on behalf of a family whose son was born with severe birth defects, deformities and abnormalities, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The defendants failed to advise the plaintiff mother of certain ominous fetal ultrasound findings regarding her unborn son in the early part of her pregnancy. The fetal ultrasound showed a catastrophically abnormal fetal heart. Had the plaintiff been properly advised of these ominous findings, the pregnancy would have been lawfully terminated.

These cases are examples of the achievements of our firm’s attorneys. All are real cases. However, these examples should not be taken as a guarantee that the same results would be achieved in another case.