Mercy Hospital Washington

Mercy Hospital plans to appeal a $14.2 million decision last week that is believed to be the largest ever medical negligence award by a Franklin County jury and the second highest civil award in county history.

The actual amount of the payout to the victim is $12,820,990.

However, the Nov. 3 decision against two Mercy doctors and two hospital subsidiaries is expected to be appealed.

Franklin County Circuit Clerk Bill D. Miller, who has held the post since 1982, says his office does not keep stats on jury awards.

“In just searching my memory, the jury award last week is what I believe to be the largest behind the Doncasters Inc. award (airplane crash case),” Miller said. “Our juries have normally been very conservative in the monetary amounts awarded.”

The Doncasters Inc. civil suit came after a plane crash near Sullivan in 2006 where the families of seven victims received a total of $48 million in punitive and wrongful death awards by county jurors.

The suit stemmed from the DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter plane crash on July 29, 2006, just after takeoff at the Sullivan Regional Airport.

The plaintiffs argued that an aftermarket parts dealer used a substandard alloy to make the plane’s blade which caused the crash.

But after trial, Franklin County Circuit Judge Gael Wood dismissed the punitive damage awards.

A Missouri appeals court later affirmed the $48 million verdict for the families.

Malpractice

Miller added there have been three or four jury trials just this year with Mercy being the defendant, and he believes last week’s case may have been the only one that awarded money to the plaintiff.

In August, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a 2015 judgment of Franklin County Circuit Court jury trial in front of Judge Gael D. Wood, which ruled in favor of Mercy Hospital East Communities.

The plaintiffs in that case, Marlin Thomas and Ma Sheryll Joy Thomas, alleged that Mercy Hospital Washington and Mercy Hospital East Communities were negligent in connection with the cesarean-section delivery of their child, resulting in brain damage to the newborn.

According to Franklin County court records, there were 16 malpractice and two wrongful death civil cases filed with Mercy as the defendant in 2016.

In 2015, plaintiffs filed one wrongful death and six malpractice suits against Mercy in Franklin County.

Other Awards

The largest eminent domain decision in Franklin County came in 2011, when jurors awarded James Krafft $1.2 million as part of the Highway 100 widening project.

The damages encompassed the actual taking of about 2.6 acres, the economic loss to the remaining 26 acres in the parcel, an area taken for a temporary construction site during the construction of the highway project and the economic damages associated with the loss of a billboard on the property.

The largest county verdict against a utility came in June 2016 when High Plains Land Company was awarded damages of $642,000 as a result of a 2010 condemnation case filed by Ameren UE running the Saddle Creek transmission line across 1.28 acres of the High Plains land located along Highway 100.

After a five-day trial, it took a jury only three hours of deliberation to deliver a judgment. That award with accrued interest over the past 5 1/2 years, exceeded $800,000.