Top Ten Medical Malpractice Verdicts – 2000-2005

SVMIC, the well-managed, physician-owned liability insurance company that insures an estimated 90% of the doctors in the state, publishes a newsletter called "Riskpoints."  It is available on their website.

The Fall 2006 edition of the newsletter  (article in on Page 2 of the newsletter). listed the top ten jury verdicts against SVMIC insureds in the six year period 2000-2005.  Four of those verdicts were by out-of-state juries (SVMIC writes insurance in multiple states). 

The largest verdict was the verdict in Hunter v. Ura, a Davidson County case, in the amount of $5.8M.  The decedent, a six-figure wage earner, died as the result of an anesthesa error.  He left a wife and two minor children behind.

The other Tennessee verdicts were $5.5M for the death of a child,  $1.7M in a back fusion case for a 36 year old male, $2M for the death of a 46 year old male, $2.94M for what appears to be a brain injury to a child (judgement against doctor and hospital) and $1.8M for death of a 62 year old male in a failure to diagnose cancer case.

The article makes it clear that "[t]he amounts listed are the actual verdicts awarded by the court or jury. Keep in mind that a number of these cases subsequently were settled for significantly lesser
amounts during the course of post-trial negotiations."

Think about it folks.  Six years of cases.  Six adverse jury verdicts.  Less than $20M in total verdicts, some of which were admittedly settled for substantially less that the original judgmnent.

This is why the industry fought for so long not to have to reveal this information.  I have sought for years to find out not just numbers but facts – who is getting these multi-million dollar judgments?

Now we are beginning to learn.

The Legislature should mandate every malpractice insurer to reveal basic facts about every claim they pay over $100,000 so that it can determine whether juries are acting reasonably.