A Missed Deadline Costs Orthopedic Clinic $2.3M
A Virginia orthopedic clinic claims that legal malpractice cost it $2.3 million after a jury ruled that the clinic was culpable in a botched attempt to repair a torn ACL. The plaintiff claimed that her peroneal nerve was entrapped within the surgical suture was caused permanent damage to the nerve and could result in other serious complications down the road. The woman filed a lawsuit against the orthopedic clinic that performed the surgery. That’s where things get a little strange.
According to the clinic, the company’s registered agent and attorney never informed them about the lawsuit. The clinic maintains that they were never made aware of the lawsuit until they were hit with a $2.3 million verdict. A second judge denied the clinic’s appeal to vacate the judgment and then file a formal response.
Both sides agree that the company’s registered agent was served with the lawsuit in June and had three weeks to file a response. Salem Orthopedics claims that their registered agent never forwarded them the information.
At this point, the parties involved are not able to discuss the case.
What Will Happen?
The plaintiff’s $2.3M verdict does not appear in jeopardy. However, Salem Orthopedics can turn around and file a lawsuit against their lawyer who they claim never informed them of the pending litigation. If that turns out to be true, then the clinic can file a claim against the lawyer’s professional malpractice insurance and recover at least some of the money they lost in the verdict.
By the time July rolled around, the deadline to file a response had passed, and the court found in favor of the plaintiff by default. This is a rare case where the plaintiff gets a handsome payout and their attorney is forced to do little or no work. All the attorney did, in this case, was file a complaint with the court and serve it to the clinic’s registered agent.
The case went before a jury and the jury recommended a $2.5M judgment plus interest. This was reduced to $2.3M amid medical malpractice caps in the State of Virginia. When the case was presented to the jury, the defendants had no counsel in the courtroom. They claim they only found out that a complaint had been filed after the judgment had been entered by the court. It was, in fact, one of the easiest trials you’ll ever see.
Seven days after receiving word that a default judgment had been entered, the clinic tried to appeal the decision and state rules allow the clinic to file such motions. However, the court must also consider the effect of reversing the judgment on the plaintiff and the reason for vacating the award. In this case, the final judgment stood.
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