A woman whose undiagnosed broken clavicle led to disfigurement and unnecessary surgery has collared a $350,000 jury verdict, her attorneys report.
Francis “Brink” Hinson and Bill Padget of HHP Law Group in Columbia said that their client, Sheryl Turner-Watts, sought treatment at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in July 2017 after being injured in a bicycle accident.
Turner-Watts alleged that hospital staff ordered an inpatient consultation to orthopedic surgery after imaging studies revealed a fractured right clavicle that didn’t appear to be “significantly displaced,” along with seven fractured ribs and a small vertebral compression.
Dr. Stephen Kana of Orthopedic Specialties of Spartanburg performed the consultation and diagnosed Turner-Watts with only “right clavicle pain,” discharging her from the hospital with prescription medication and instructions to follow-up with him in two weeks, but without advice regarding how to properly treat the injury.
Between hospital visits, Turner-Watts—unaware of the extent of her injury—continued physical activity, displacing the fracture severely enough to require surgery.
Kana misdiagnosed the injury, Hinson said, because while he examined X-rays (which the radiologist noted did not clearly show the fracture), he failed to review the CT scans depicting the broken bone and never opened radiology reports specifying a broken clavicle as the reason Turner-Watts was referred to orthopedics.
“The plaintiff now has a seven-inch metal plate and seven screws in her clavicle and continues to have shoulder pain after she exercises,” Hinson said.
After a week-long trial, the jury deliberated just over three hours before finding on Sept. 17 that Kana had violated the applicable standard of medical care but was not grossly negligent, willful, wanton, or reckless.
Hinson said that his client brought the lawsuit to improve medical practices in her community.
“A minute of two reading the relevant medical imaging would have prevented this surgery and my client would have avoided a lifetime with metal hardware in her shoulder,” Brink said.
Hinson said that Turner-Watts sent an offer of judgment for $95,000 in July of 2019, but the defense didn’t respond to the offer before it expired. The highest official pre-trial offer Turner-Watts ever received from the defense was a bracket of $50,000 to $100,000, which she rejected.
James Hood and Collier Jones of Hood Law Firm in Spartanburg represented the defendants. Neither attorney immediately responded to a request for comment.
VERDICT REPORT — MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Injuries alleged: Disfigurement, pain and suffering, scarring, and mental and emotional anguish, among others
Case name: Sheryl Turner-Watts v. Orthopedic Specialties of Spartanburg, LLC, and Stephen Michael Kana, M.D
Court: Spartanburg County Circuit Court
Case No.: 2019-CP-42-02437
Judge: J. Derham Cole
Date of verdict: Sept. 17
Special damages: $30,000 in medical bills and other economic damages such as prescription medication, rehabilitation, and lost wages
Most helpful experts: Dr. Andrew Collier of Philadelphia (orthopedic surgeon)
Attorneys for plaintiff: Francis “Brink” Hinson and Bill Padget of HHP Law Group in Columbia
Attorneys for defendant: Jamie Hood and Collier Jones of Hood Law Firm in Spartanburg