Posted on Jun 19, 2006
NY Jury Awards Brain-Damaged Woman $8.5 Million
New York Lawyer
June 19, 2006
By Samuel Maull
The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- A former postal worker who was left severely brain damaged after surgery has been awarded $8.5 million by a jury, the patient's lawyer said Monday.
Karine Aquilino, 37, of Lake Peekskill, N.Y., was semi-comatose for nearly a year after the surgery on Aug. 7, 2000, at Mount Sinai Hospital to insert a shunt to drain fluid from her brain, said her lawyer, Thomas Moore, a partner at Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore.
The Putnam County woman now has speech, walking and balance problems, cannot do tasks such as supermarket shopping, household chores and personal care, and will never be able to work again, the lawyer said.
After a three-week trial and two days of deliberations, a jury in Manhattan's state Supreme Court returned the verdict late last week. The panel awarded Aquilino $1.95 million for pain and suffering, $4 million for future aid and assistance, $1 million for lost earnings, and $1.55 million for future medical care and therapy, all of it to be paid by Mount Sinai.
The jury apparently agreed with Moore, who argued that Mt. Sinai and its neurosurgeon, Dr. Isabelle Germano, "failed miserably" to monitor Aquilino properly after the shunt surgery.
The lawyer for the hospital and Germano did not immediately return calls for comment.
Moore said that after the surgery, the doctors should have done a CT scan (computerized tomography, similar to an X-ray) which would have shown that the shunt was draining too much fluid too quickly and causing the bleeding around her brain.
"A CT scan, inexplicably, was never performed," the lawyer said. "It was a departure from protocol that produced devastating results."
Aquilino returned to the hospital on Sept. 13, about five weeks after her initial discharge, Moore said. Instead of performing emergency surgery to relieve pressure on her brain, hospital staff let her languish for hours in the emergency room, resulting in her semi-comatose state, Moore said.
Aquilino, who came from France to the United States in 1992, is married and has a 10-year-old son. She became a U.S. citizen in 2004, Moore said.