Wayne Walker and Lynne Walker v. Regents (UCDMC).

Sacramento Superior Court – 18 trial days, May 2003. Retained sponge case, in which the sponge count was noted as off following completion of bariatric (stomach stapling) surgery. Surgeons searched for the sponge for over an hour but were unable to find it, and then did two x-rays. Both x-rays read by surgeons as negative (no sponge disclosed) whereupon the procedure terminated and the plaintiff taken to the recovery room in violation of hospital policy mandated films be read by radiologist (as opposed to surgeon) before operation terminated. The following day, a radiology overread of one of the films called the presence of the sponge. However, then was no direct communication from that radiologist to surgeon of this finding. Two days later, the surgeon reordered yet another set of films, which for various technical reasons were of much better quality. The sponge was found, and patient returned to surgical suite, where he was reopened and the sponge removed. Patient subsequently developed a pulmonary embolus, requiring one week rehospitalization, and then suffered various complications at the wound site, first in the development of a wound infection, and then after another year, a “ventral hernia” in which the would surgery line reopened, thus necessitating another surgery for a hernia repair. Plaintiffs alleged over one year of loss wages, as well as 6 months of claimed nursing services rendered to the plaintiff husband by the plaintiff wife, along with loss of various household services by the plaintiff husband during his one year convalesce. Claim for general damages at MICRA limits by both husband and wife, as well as value of the above-described services. Plaintiffs ultimately asked the jurors to award $550,000.00 to $750,000.00. Last demand, $175,000.00 during Settlement Conference. Last offer $125,000.00. Jury verdict for plaintiffs (admitted liability on one area, directed verdict on two others) with an award of $140,000.00 on behalf of plaintiff husband (total) and $5,000.00 on behalf of plaintiff wife. No appeal.