Largest Verdict in Hawaii Personal Injury History

Ray v. Kapiolani Medical Specialists, et al.

Phil Russotti recently obtained the largest jury verdict in Hawaii in a personal injury suit, a $6.15 million dollar verdict for a 14 year old girl who suffered steroid myopathy. The case concerned a pediatric rheumatologist who failed to discontinue massive doses of steroids to a young girl diagnosed with lupus after her symptoms had abated. Our client presented to a hospital in Honolulu with rash, fever, unsteady on her feet, slurred speech, and evidence of lupus involvement in her brain and kidneys. However, after receiving 3 grams of solumedrol over three days, the symptoms drastically subsided and she was discharged.

Despite that, the doctor continued to administer six grams of solumedrol over the next two weeks. The following week, our client developed weakness in her muscles, which is a complication of steroid treatment, which over the course of the next two months led to her becoming totally paralyzed in an ICU, unable to move except for her eyelids, and having to go to a rehabilitation hospital for almost one year until she was finally able to sit in a wheelchair. After 3 years of strenuous physical therapy, she was able to walk with a brace and cane.

The steroid regimen utilized by the defendant doctor was unheard of. The defendant's own expert witness testified at her deposition that she had never heard of this regimen but that most pediatric rheumatologists in the country, confronted with the manner in which Alyssa presented, would give the initial dose of three grams and then one gram per week for the next three weeks, and not six additional grams. The only justification offered by the defendant was that she was taught this protocol in her fellowship in Texas, but Phil was able to prove that no one else in the country utilized this procedure, and that the circumstances under which it was utilized in Texas were substantially different from the circumstances of this case.

Additionally, Phil proved that the defendant doctor failed to provide an informed consent under Hawaii law because she did not advise the parents of recognized alternatives which involved far less dosages of steroids. The jury found the doctor negligent and that she failed to provide informed consent and awarded damages for the cost of her care, loss of income, pain and suffering and emotional damages to the parents.

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