Family receives $7.8M settlement in flesh-eating bacteria case
After a 15-day trial a Dyer County Circuit Court jury recently returned a verdict for a judgment of $7.8 million against Dyersburg Regional Medical Center and several other individuals for negligence and failing to provide proper care to a 12-year-old child who reportedly suffered severe brain damage as a result of an improperly treated cut.
Dyersburg Regional Medical Center; David Criswell, owner of Upon This Rock Amusement in Dyersburg; Joseph Flagge, M.D.; and Alan Hopkins, ARNP; were named as defendants in the original complaint filed in 2004 by David Reynolds and Debbie Flowers, the parents of Jonathan Reynolds.
The complaint states the injury occurred when then 12-year-old Jonathan Reynolds visited the now defunct Upon This Rock Amusement on Jan. 17, 2004 to play laser tag. Jonathan Reynolds injured himself when he fell on an exposed nail head. He was taken to DRMC, where Flagge and Hopkins treated him. David Reynolds and Debbie Flowers filed a complaint in Dyer County Circuit Court on Dec. 28, 2004 alleging that Flagge, Hopkins and other medical personnel failed to take proper precautions to avoid infection, including the failure to administer necessary and appropriate antibiotics and other medicines. Jonathan Reynolds was discharged the same day of his injury, but was then admitted into DRMC two days later with excruciating pain and redness and swelling that was steadily moving up his leg.
The complaint further alleged that the doctor that admitted Jonathan on Jan. 19, two days after his injury, Randy Isaacs, M.D., failed to diagnose the flesh-eating bacteria (necrotizing fascitis). It was not until Jonathan Reynolds was seen on Jan. 22, 2004 by another doctor that his condition was determined to be "significant" and was immediately transferred to Lebonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.
The complaint alleged not only did Jonathan Reynolds suffer severe physical injuries from the hospital's negligence with most of the flesh from his knee to his groin decomposing, requiring extensive tissue removal and skin grafts, but he also suffered severe brain injuries. Jonathan's condition caused him to slip into a coma for two weeks where he suffered from seizures that caused permanent brain injuries. At the civil trial held in March 2007, Dr. Robert Kennon of Jackson, Tenn., a child psychologist, testified Jonathan Reynolds no longer qualified for approximately 84 percent of jobs available. He also testified that Jonathan's injury had severely affected his memory.
The case went to trial in 2007, but ended in a mistrial and was reheard last month by Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Parish from Huntington, Tenn. Dyer County Circuit Court Judge Lee Moore had previously recused himself from the case after reportedly being related to some of the individuals named in the complaint and was friends with others.
The trial started on Monday, July 16, and the verdict wasn't handed down until Friday, Aug. 3. A large portion of testimony centered around the treatment of Jonathan Reynolds' knee injury, which was alleged to have been improperly treated, thus causing him further injury. Flagge and Hopkins had reportedly already settled with the defendants for undisclosed amounts and the hospital followed suit halfway through the trial, agreeing to pay an undisclosed settlement. The jury ultimately determined that Jonathan Reynolds was eligible for $7,816,740 in damages. According to court documents obtained by the State Gazette, the breakdown of fault found by the jury was as follows:
* Criswell is responsible for 13 percent.
* Flagge and Hopkins are each responsible for 20 percent.
* DRMC is responsible for 47 percent.
The final settlement amounts have been sealed by the court.
Parish was the sixth judge to hear the case since it was originally filed in 2004.