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Prominent Beverly Hills Law Firm Awarded $16.5 Million Medical Malpractice Jury Verdict
Date:2/1/2010

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Ervin Cohen & Jessup, a prominent Beverly Hills, California law firm, announced today that David Bricker, Of Counsel to the firm, won a $16.5-million verdict on behalf of his clients last Friday, January 29, 2010, in a medical malpractice case —Hughes vs. Pham— tried before the Honorable Harold W. Hopp of the Riverside Superior Court and a jury panel of 12.

Bricker, lead counsel for plaintiffs Trent and Lisa Hughes, said the jury found Christopher Pham, DO, a neurosurgeon, negligent for failing to provide timely and appropriate medical care to Trent Hughes in November, 2003. The jury, which deliberated for more than eight hours, rendered a unanimous verdict in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Hughes on all counts, except for one, loss of consortium, where one juror held out because she did not think the amount of the award was sufficient to adequately compensate Mrs. Hughes.

"We are very pleased that the jury found in favor of our clients," said Bricker, who tried the case with co-counsel, Burt Rosenblatt of Eli Bettini Ulman & Rosenblatt in Phoenix, Ariz. "The jurors certainly understood how hard it was to put a price tag on the pain and suffering Trent and Lisa have endured for the past seven years—misery they will continue to endure for the rest of their lives."

According to court documents, Hughes was on an off-road vehicle excursion with friends and family in Glamis, Ariz. on November 2, 2003, when he hit a bump and began to experience searing pain in his lower back and numbness in his feet and toes. He was immediately airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Calif., where he was seen at approximately 2:00 p.m. and diagnosed with a fracture of his spine.  Although the Hospital records indicate that Pham was on call that day and that he was required to report to the Emergency Room within 20 minutes of the call to evaluate Mr. Hughes' condition, the evidence at trial established that he did not examine Mr. Hughes until the following afternoon, November 3, 2003. The evidence also established that Pham failed to perform surgery necessary to decompress Mr. Hughes' spinal cord until late in the day on November 4, 2003. "By then, the numbness and tingling that Mr. Hughes had experienced in his feet at the time of the accident had spread and had risen up his legs into his thighs," Bricker explained. "By the time Dr. Pham finally operated on November 4, 2003, the damage to the spinal cord had become irreversible and it was simply too late to restore any function.  As a direct result of Dr. Pham's failure to see Mr. Hughes and to operate immediately on November 2, 2003, Mr. Hughes was left a paraplegic."

The case was originally tried in January of 2004, but the jury's verdict was overturned due to misconduct by defense counsel during their closing argument.  The re-trial began on January 4, 2010, with trial lasting four weeks.

Ben Housouer and Jeff Grass, of Davis Grass Goldstein & Housouer, served as defense counsel on this case and another medical malpractice case against Pham in 2007. Pham's insurer is Norcal Mutual Insurance Company. No settlement offers were made by the defense prior to trial. A $1 million offer was extended shortly before the jury returned its verdict.

Trent Hughes, now paralyzed from the waist down, was 41 years of age at the time of the accident. Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, high school sweethearts who have been married for 27 years and who have two adult daughters, owned a successful Phoenix, Arizona air conditioning company prior to the accident. They have since lost their business due to Mr. Hughes' injuries.  

The $16.5 million verdict was intended to compensate Mr. and Mrs. Hughes for all past and future lost earnings, future medical and rehabilitative care as well as damages for pain and suffering and loss of consortium. The Hughes' settled their claims against Desert Regional Medical Center for an undisclosed sum approximately two years ago.

Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP, one of the oldest and most established law firms in Los Angeles, is a full-service law firm with practice areas in litigation and alternative dispute resolution; bankruptcy, receivership, and reorganization; business and corporate; employment law; estate planning, probate and trusts; health care; intellectual property; physician practice group; products liability; real estate; and tax law.

SOURCE Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

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SOURCE Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP
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