Medical Malpractice ­ Chiropractic Negligence - $1,900,000

Chiropractic Negligence $1,900,000
Injuries alleged: Spastic paraparesis/paraplegia
Court: Withheld
Amount of settlement: $1.9 million ($1.5 million cash; structured settlement with a present value of $400,000)

Case Summary:
The plaintiff, a 40-year-old electronics technician, presented to the defendant chiropractor complaining of minor numbness in his hands and feet. The plaintiff informed the defendant that he had experienced similar problems the previous year and had been seen by his family physician and a consulting neurologist. Although the defendant charted this information, he failed to contact either previous treating physician to obtain any of their medical records or the x-rays or CT scans of the cervical spine that had been performed at their direction. These records and radiograph studies revealed that plaintiff was suffering from cervical spondylosis with bulging at C5, 6 and C6, 7 with bilateral osteophytic encroachment upon the neural foramina at this level.

The defendant proceeded to perform cervical and lumbar manipulations two to three times per week for 12 weeks. During the course of these manipulations, the plaintiff began to exhibit significant neurological signs and symptoms, including loss of bladder control and spastic paraparesis. Reassured by the defendant that these symptoms were normal in the course of chiropractic treatment, the plain-tiff continued to submit to the defendant's chiropractic manipulations until he could no longer walk without assistance.

Within 24 hours of his last visit with the defendant, the plaintiff returned to his family physician and former neurologist. These physicians, in conjunction with a neurosurgeon, determined that the plaintiff was suffering from spinal cord compression at C5, 6. The plaintiff underwent surgical decompression. Although he initially improved, the plaintiff's condition failed to further respond. He is presently confined to a wheelchair. Several years later, the plaintiff, unfortunately, was diagnosed as having possible multiple sclerosis. The defendants con-tended that this was the cause of the plaintiff's neurological deficits.

At trial, the plaintiff was prepared to present the testimony of a chiropractor (who was a former classmate of the defendant's at chiropractor school) and a chiropractor/medical doctor as to standards of care. Both the treating neurologist and neurosurgeon were prepared to testify with respect to the causation issues. The defendants named an expert neurosurgeon to contest causation. The defense named no standard of care expert. The case settled 20 minutes prior to opening statements.