A New York City jury has awarded $62 million to a double amputee victim who lost both her legs in complications arising from what was thought to be a straight forward surgery.
In October 2009, Stacey Galette, a resident of Brooklyn went to Winthrop University Hospital in Long Island for laparoscopic removal of an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy outside the womb. However, the simple gynecological operation led to the amputation of both her legs and partial deafness.
The jury awarded Galette $20 million for past pain and suffering, $38 million for future pain and suffering, and another $4 million with interest for medical expenses.
"This verdict demonstrates that our system of civil justice works for victims, particularly those who suffer horrible injuries through no fault of their own," said Sanford Rubenstein, Galette's lawyer.
Galette is a divorced mother of a 13-year old daughter. She accused the doctors at the Winthrop University Hospital of puncturing her intestine during the typically routine procedure. Unfortunately, the surgery caused an infection that led to blood poisoning and gangrene.
Galette returned to the hospital after three days complaining of severe pain and doctors were forced to amputate her lower legs. Legal papers suggest that Galette was in coma for three weeks in the Winthrop University Hospital.
The victim filed a lawsuit at Brooklyn Supreme Court against Winthrop University Hospital as well as three doctors in 2010. Doctors Paul Byrne, Frederic Moon and Cynthia Fretwell, who treated Galette, have been named in the medical malpractice suit.
"The jury did the right thing by rendering a verdict that will take care of this young lady for the rest of her life. If she could turn the clock back, she would do it in a heartbeat," said Ira Newman, Galette's other lawyer.
The hospital had argued that Galette should be thankful to the doctors who found the complications and amputated her legs and saved her life. A hospital representative said that they will appeal the ruling as well as the the amount of the damages.