A Florida woman has been given an extremely rare second chance to sue for medical negligence in a case that led to her receiving a preventable quadruple amputation. Broward County Circuit Court Judge Charles M. Greene has reversed a jury’s verdict and ordered a new trial because, he stated, the jury’s verdict against plaintiff Lisa Strong was “contrary to the law and the manifest weight of the evidence.” Verdict reversals occur in fewer than one half of one percent of all civil trials nationwide, according to the National Center for State Courts.
On September 20, 2003, Strong was working in a shopping mall when she developed a high fever and excruciating flank pain, which she recognized all too clearly from her history of having kidney stones. When her fever skyrocketed to 106 degrees, she went to an emergency room, where she told the attending nurse that she had a history of the condition, and that she certainly had another stone.
Due to a series of miscommunications, misdiagnoses, late arrivals, and no-shows on the part of physicians, Strong’s treatment was delayed until after she went into septic shock and circulation to all four of her limbs failed. About a month later, both of her hands and feet had to be amputated.
In 2005, Strong sued the South Broward Hospital District for medical negligence. In the trial, each doctor involved blamed others for failing to communicate properly about Strong’s condition. The jury found the case too complex to fix blame, and ruled against Strong, who currently lives on just $1,600 per month in disability payments, shares custody of her two minor children, and has more than $850,000 in medical bills. According to legal writer Sandy Grinnell of injuryboard.com, Green “determined there was an overwhelming amount of evidence against the defendants (significant errors in communication and diagnoses) and therefore a new trial was warranted.”
In an article by the Associated Press, Strong was described as still being in constant pain, as well as sharing the custody of her two minor children. It quoted her as feeling unsure about the value of pursuing the second trial, saying, “I had decided, this is over. I’m moving forward. Now, this whole thing is back on my lap and hanging over my head. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt…. Everybody says you really can’t win at these things.”