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GA Attorneys Secure $18M Malpractice Verdict in Chatham County

Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner and National Trial Lawyers -- Top 100 member Jeffrey R. Harris and associate Yvonne S. Godfrey – along with Owen C. Murphy of Owen Murphy, P.C. and Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Association -- Top 25 member W. Andrew Bowen of Bowen Painter, LLC – recently set a record with an $18 million verdict from a Chatham County jury on behalf of their client, Joan Simmons.

"The jury in this case recognized that Joan Simmons was tragically, catastrophically injured and that she will be a paraplegic the rest of her life as a result of medical malpractice,” said Jeffrey R. Harris of Harris Lowry Manton LLP. “The jury’s verdict clearly reflected that understanding.”

In 2014, Simmons was admitted to a Savannah hospital because she was experiencing back pain. The 30-year Colonial Oil employee also showed signs of an infection. An infectious disease doctor at Southcoast Medical Group, as well as other healthcare professionals, failed to diagnose and treat her spinal abscess, a serious complication of a spinal infection. The untreated abscess put pressure on Simmons’ spinal cord, causing paralysis in both legs. As a result of their negligence, Simmons was left permanently paraplegic and unable to work.

“Ms. Simmons went into the hospital with severe back pain and left the hospital in a wheelchair, unable to walk because her medical condition was not timely diagnosed or treated," said Owen C. Murphy of Owen Murphy, P.C.

Within a few hours of closing arguments, the Chatham County jury returned the largest medical malpractice verdict – and the largest personal injury verdict – in the county’s history. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Joan Simmons, finding that Southcoast Medical Group was liable for failure to diagnose and treat a spinal abscess.

“This was an important case that clearly demonstrated the catastrophic effect of medical malpractice,” said W. Andrew Bowen of Bowen Painter, LLC. “We are grateful that justice was served for our client and that the responsible parties are being held accountable.”

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