Jury Awards Rock Springs Man Over $10M in Case Involving Memorial Hospital and Physician

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GREEN RIVER — Following two weeks of testimony and nearly 10 hours of deliberation, a jury decided that five nurses and a contracted provider working at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County violated their “standard of care” that allegedly left a local man a double amputee five years ago.

The jury awarded Rock Springs resident Darrell Menapace $10,165,000 for a number of damages including lost wages, disability and disfigurement, future medical expenses and more.

The jury found Dr. Lin Miao, an independent, contracted physician working for the hospital at the time, to be 50% responsible, MHSC to be 40% responsible, and Menapace 10% responsible for the actions that led to his amputations.


The Case History

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According to court documents, on June 6, 2013 Menapace was admitted to the Memorial Hospital with complaints of numbness and cramping in his legs and an inability to walk.

He was examined by Dr. Miao, who allegedly did not request a vascular consult and discharged Menapace two days later. Five days after that, Menapace saw a nurse practitioner, Angela Slinden, who allegedly scheduled him for a vascular consult to take place two and a half days later.

On June 12, 2013, Menapace self-referred himself to the University of Utah where he was diagnosed with acute limb ischemia, sepsis, and acute renal failure, and underwent emergent bilateral above-the-knee amputations.

Menapace filed complaints against the hospital claiming, among other things, vicarious liability for the acts of omission in Miao’s care and treatment of him, according to the documents.

The hospital answered by saying it was not liable for the actions of independent contractors, and the case ended up in front of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

However, the Supreme Court reversed the district court ruling, holding that “the hospital’s liability insurance did not provide coverage beyond the liability defined by the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, and that the hospital’s liability insurance therefore did not extend its liability to include liability for its apparent agents,” the documents state.

The Supreme Court case against Miao was dismissed after being settled out of court, and the jury also determined Slinden violated the standard of care but agreed the violation did not result in Menapace’s injuries, according to the verdict documents.

Damages

Five nurses were also named in the lawsuit, and as a result of the verdict the hospital will be responsible for $4,066,000 in damages.

The jury determined that Dr. Miao was responsible for $5,082,500 in damages, an amount that has already been settled, according to court documents.

It also determined that Menapace failed “to use ordinary care for his conditions” which resulted in his injuries and damage.

For more information about the case click here.