Posted on Mar 25, 2007
Jury awards paralyzed teen $11.7 million
ATLANTA - A Fulton County jury awarded $11.7 million Friday to a teenager paralyzed from mistakes made during a 2003 surgery.
Joshua Coleman, a 19-year-old Piedmont College student, underwent surgery to relieve chronic back pain, but the procedure paralyzed him from the waist down. He sued his Cumming-based spine surgeon, Dr. Stephen B. James, and a team of doctors at North Fulton Medical Center.
James agreed to an out-of-court settlement in January. But the neurologist, Dr. Frank Puhalovich, maintained his innocence and took his chances at trial.
Puhalovich's attorney, Mary Katherine Greene, said he was only in the operating room for 10 minutes to make sure a technician properly hooked up a monitor to Coleman's head and feet to track nerve impulses along his spinal chord. The monitor's alarm went off during surgery, but the screws and rods installed during surgery weren't removed for six hours, leaving Coleman paralyzed.