PWRFL obtains a $5.25 million verdict in a spine surgery case against Kaiser Permanente.

On behalf of the plaintiffs, PWRFL attorneys Felix Luna and Mallory Allen sued Kaiser Permanente, f.k.a Group Health Cooperative, for medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, and medical battery after its neurosurgeon employee performed spine surgery on PWRFL’s client using an antiquated technique that had been abandoned nearly 40 years ago.

In early 2014, PWRFL’s client, a physician who had accepted a fellowship in global health at the University of Washington, began experiencing back pain and weakness in his legs.

An MRI showed that he had herniated discs in his mid back.  After his symptoms progressed and affected his ability to walk, PWRFL’s client consulted with the Group Health surgeon, who recommended surgical removal of the disc herniations.   They discussed a specific type of surgery, and PWRFL’s client did his own research and consulted with other physicians. 

After substantial deliberation, PWRFL’s client agreed to a very specific type of surgery.  But on the day of the surgery, the surgeon chose to perform the surgery using a technique that had been essentially abandoned 40 years ago because of the risks of a spinal cord injury.  Unfortunately, PWRFL’s client awoke from the surgery with a spinal cord injury.  While PWRFL’s client experienced substantial improvement in the years following the surgery due to his hard work and ongoing rehabilitation, he continues to suffer substantial deficits, which are permanent.

At trial, Kaiser admitted that its surgeon was negligent, failed to obtain informed consent, and committed a medical battery, but disputed that PWRFL’s client’s current condition was caused by the surgery.  The jury disagreed and awarded damages totaling $5.25 million.  Kaiser chose not to appeal the jury’s verdict and paid the judgment.