Baton Rouge Catastrophic Injury Law
Medical Malpractice: Catastrophic Brain Injury — $10,000,000
Henry A. Sibley, III, Curator of Jane Elizabeth Sibley, Interdict v. The Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, 477 So. 2d 1094; 490 So. 2d 307
Our client, an 18-year-old female, suffered a catastrophic brain injury that left her only able to communicate through a keyboard from a hospital bed in her home. Around-the-clock nursing support was required.
Her injury resulted from misdiagnosing and mistreating her condition at a charity hospital run by the State of Louisiana. The doctor who developed the proper treatment for our client’s condition was hired to testify at trial.
While legal liability was thought to be strong, though difficult and expensive to prove, the real barrier to full recovery for our client was that the State of Louisiana had a law that limited the State’s responsibility at charity hospitals to $500,000 total. Our client’s medical care alone exceeded $222,000 each year by the time of trial.
What makes this case important is not success at trial for the maximum amount the law then allowed. It is important because we were successful in having the Louisiana Supreme Court declare that the law limiting our client’s recovery was unconstitutional unless the State of Louisiana could produce evidence to justify its discriminatory effect upon the catastrophically disabled.
The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower courts for assessment of full damages with the burden on the State to prove the justification for the law limiting recovery. After an award of $2,000,000 in addition to $420,000 for past medical expenses and $222,222 per year for medical expenses for the rest of our client’s life, the State of Louisiana decided to settle the case. Cash and future payments to our client for her life expectancy at the time of settlement exceeded $10,000,000.