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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

Paralyzed area man wins $10M judgment

A 19-year-old Wood County man who was paralyzed during surgery in 1999 to correct a spinal deformity has received a $10 million award from a Lucas County Common Pleas jury.

Joshua Terry of Risingsun, Ohio, who is paralyzed below the chest, received the judgment last week in a medical malpractice lawsuit he filed in 2001 against Dr. Ernest Lindell, a former Toledo pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Lindell, who now lives in Chicago, performed the two-stage scoliosis surgery on Mr. Terry in May, 1999, when he was 14 years old.

The surgery included the implantation of screws, hooks, and rods to straighten Mr. Terry's spine.

"The award was actually very reasonable considering what Josh needs in terms of future medical care, expenses, and home health aids," said Jay Kelley, an attorney for Mr. Terry.

The jury's award included $3.6 million for future medical care, $3.8 million for future pain and suffering, and $1 million for the loss of the ability to perform daily activities.

The plaintiff's parents, Carolyn and Larry Terry, were compensated $1 million for past and future loss of consortium.

Judge James Barber of Fulton County presided over the trial as a visiting judge.

Mr. Kelley said Dr. Lindell made a mistake in the surgery in which he lost control of an instrument, allowing it to go into the spinal canal, which caused the paralysis.

Stephen Skiver, a physician and attorney who represents Dr. Lindell, said paralysis is a recognized complication for that type of spinal procedure.

"It was an unfortunate complication, but not a product of negligence," Dr. Skiver said.

However, Mr. Kelley, of the Cleveland law firm Elk and Elk said four surgeons with over 100 years of experience testified that paralysis was not a potential complication.

Dr. Skiver said his client was covered by medical malpractice insurance.

But the attorney said Dr. Lindell does not have enough coverage to pay the full amount of the jury verdict.

He said Dr. Lindell is considering appealing to a higher court.

"Because of this award, [Dr. Lindell] will no longer be doing spinal surgery," Dr. Skiver said.

"The risk is to just too great," he said.

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