A Medical Malpractice Case in Ohio

Medical Malpractice in the operating room certainly led to Keith's worsened condition, but the Ohio Supreme Court decided otherwise.

Keith Theobald was a healthy and fit father of two, until an elderly driver clipped the back of his pick up truck and sent Keith and his car flying over 4 lanes of traffic and into a patch of standing trees. EMT’s quickly arrived at the crash site and found Keith hanging upside down in a tree. He was paralyzed from the chest down. In the hospital, Keith was alert and still had the use of his arms. He and his wife came to terms with his new condition, and were looking ahead to a difficult, but fulfilling life.
Keith’s doctors told him that an operation might be able to improve his condition, so Keith underwent the surgery. Keith woke up from surgery still paralyzed but now he was blind in both eyes and could no longer use his arms. Doctor’s records proved that a series of mistakes made during the surgery led to oxygen deprivation, causing Keith’s blindness and extended paralysis. Keith, now blind and completely paralyzed, needs ‘round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Ohio Supreme Court Ruling

The Theobalds went to Court and sought to recover damages from Keith’s doctors. Despite the overwhelming evidence of medical malpractice, The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the doctors were immune from any and all lawsuits – no matter what. The Court found that because there were medical students watching and helping during the operation, the doctors who performed the surgery were acting within their realm of state employment as teachers with the University of Cincinnati, and were therefore immune to medical malpractice suits.

That’s right, highly paid doctors and surgeons who agree to assist a State University in teaching med students (without compensation) are considered state employees, just like DMV folks who process our license applications, the road department workers who paint and repair our highways and state prison guards – all of whom get paid directly by the state with tax dollars.

Although these doctors were not being paid like state employees, the Court’s ruling gave them the same immunity from suits that most state workers in Ohio got. Unbeknownst to Keith, by going to these doctors, he was giving up his personal rights to a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas. The Theobalds were told they had to take the case to the Court of Claims, meaning:

• No jury presence
• State appointed judges that issue rulings for and against the state
• Award cap of $250,000, regardless of severity of damages
• Taxpayers will foot the bill, not the Doctors insurance companies

In the 6-1 decision, called The Theobald Ruling, the dissenting justice argued (unsuccessfully) that the immunity was meant for mistakes that students made, not mistakes that teaching surgeons made. He also argued that patients should be alerted when procedures are to be performed by “state employed” physicians, and that they are indeed surrendering their right to go to Court should something go wrong. The ruling stated otherwise.

In a heartbreaking ending, The Theobalds never saw their day in court. After a lengthy ordeal with the Court of Common Pleas, the Theobalds finally filed suit in the Court of Claims, only to be denied again because the statute of limitations had run out on their claim. Keith and his wife Jacqueline received no compensation for injuries sustained due to medical malpractice, and must now face his injuries with no monetary help from here on out. Is this justice?

If You Believe You are a Victim of Medical Malpractice, You Must Act Quickly!

New Jersey and Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys will continue to fight for victims of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one have been affected by medical malpractice, you need to act soon. Don’t let a statute of limitations be the reason you do not receive due compensation.Contact us to fill out a free case evaluation form or call us for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Comments

  1. this is a heartbreaking story. The lawyers of Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz represent medical malpractice cases in Ohio. I recommend the Theobalds submit a free legal consultation request.

  2. samantha says:

    What a terrible story

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