Minnesota orthopedic group hit with $111M negligence verdict

Alan Condon -  

A jury has awarded a man more than $111 million in damages as a result of alleged negligent care provided by Sartell, Minn.-based St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates in relation to surgery on his left leg, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for Minnesota on May 17.

Five details:

1. After fracturing his left leg on Jan. 14, 2017, Anuj Thapa, 24, was taken by ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital. Chad Holien, MD, the orthopedic surgeon on call at the hospital, performed surgery to address the fracture.

2. Mr. Thapa said he informed St. Cloud providers of "severe, difficult-to-control pain in his left lower leg" as well as "numbness, a burning sensation and reduced contraction of his muscles," according to court documents. Despite these symptoms, he was discharged the day after surgery and told to call a physician if his condition worsened.

3. Six days after he was discharged, Mr. Thapa returned to the hospital because of pain in his leg. Matthew Hwang, MD, another St. Cloud orthopedic surgeon, discovered Mr. Thapa experienced acute compartment syndrome — the muscles in the anterior compartment of his leg were gray in color and had no contractility. Mr. Thapa underwent more than 20 surgeries and "has been left with severe, disabling, permanent damage to his left leg," the complaint said.

4. Attorneys representing Mr. Thapa said St. Cloud did not provide him with acceptable care, alleging providers failed to appropriately evaluate his symptoms and diagnose and treat his acute compartment syndrome, and did not appropriately discharge him. The lawsuit against St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates was filed in September 2019.

5. The verdict comprises $110 million in past pain, disability, disfigurement, embarrassment and emotional distress, $493,073 in past medical expenses and $758,486 in future medical expenses.

A administrator for St. Cloud Orthopedics told Becker's the practice maintains "the care provided in this case was in accordance with accepted standards of care." St. Cloud Orthopedics continues to support Dr. Holien and physician assistant Will Paschke, who were named in this case, and is evaluating "options regarding this verdict." 

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