Case: Rajdath Ramkissoon, as personal representative of estate of Laura Ramkissoon v. Virginia McIntosh M.D. and ContinuCare Medical Group at Tamarac
Case no: CACE09062596
Description: Medical malpractice
Filing date: Nov. 18, 2009
Trial date: Oct. 10-24, 2012
Award: $9.5 million
Judge: Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning
Plaintiff attorney: Julie Ann Hager, Law Offices of Julie Hager, Fort Lauderdale
Defense attorney: Evan Marowitz and Kabir Asrani, Michaud, Mittelmark, Marowitz & Asrani, Boca Raton
Details: Laura Ramkissoon, 54, was living with several chronic illnesses, the most serious being autoimmune hemolytic anemia, a condition where a person’s antibodies attach to their own red blood cells. With exercise and diet, she had been managing the condition since 1999. In spring 2007, she developed a mass in her leg. Her primary care physician, Dr. Virginia McIntosh of ContinuCare Medical Group in Tamarac, ordered a CT scan with a contrast chemical known as OptiRay 300.
On May 22, 2007, four days after the imaging procedure, her husband Rajdath Ramkissoon brought her back to ContinuCare. He explained she was suffering flu-like symptoms and had pink urine. Without seeing the doctor, she was misdiagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given a prescription.
Ramkissoon’s blood condition, once manifested, can become life-threatening within 48 hours.
She continued to deteriorate. By May 24, when she was taken to the hospital, her condition was terminal. She died at 1 a.m. May 25.
“That urine was pink. The red blood cells are breaking down rapidly. It’s the pigment in red blood cells being cast off. They are dying off prematurely. She died from oxygen deprivation to her organs because she didn’t have enough red blood to carry oxygen,” Hager said.
Plaintiff case: Hager, the plainiff counsel, asserted the contrast chemical was not necessary.
“Iodine was in the OptiRay 300, which includes several chemicals. We don’t know if it was the iodine or some of the other chemicals, but people with her condition are hypersensitive to iodine,” Hager said.
Given Ramkissoon’s medical history, she should have been seen by her physician and either referred to a hematologist or sent directly to the hospital, Dr. Harry Jacob, a hematologist, testified.
Also damaging to the defense was testimony from two ContinuCare employees, including Dr. Martin Weinstein. Hager said both employees acknowledged it was company policy that walk-in patients are to be seen by a doctor.
Defense case: Defense attorneys had no comment by deadline.
McIntosh testified she called the Ramkissoon home May 23 and told the husband to take his wife to the hospital.
This was disputed by Hager, who asserted someone from the clinic called and spoke to the wife, who had been vomiting up all day.
“It was a huge dispute,” Hager said. “First, the caller didn’t specify the hospital, and patients had to go to contracted hospitals. The doctor had to make those arrangements, take the blood work, fax the patient’s labs. None of that was done. When they went to the hospital, there was no report with the hospital of a doctor referral.”
Defense counsel Evan Marowitz argued comparative fault, maintaining the Ramkissoons did not try hard enough to be seen by a doctor, Hager said. However, the defense was dropped just before closing arguments and did not reach the verdict form.
Outcome: The jury returned a verdict of $9.5 million. Except for a $5,000 award for funeral costs, all of it was for the husband’s pain and suffering.
Comments: “Why the damages were so high is because they were soulmates and best friends. It was a storybook marriage. They didn’t want to be apart one minute of the day. They raised three fine children, all with advanced degrees. The wife would not see either of her grandchildren be born,” Hager said.
Post-settlement: The defendants have filed motions for a new trial and remittitur and to reduce the damages to the state cap for medical malpractice. A hearing is scheduled for today.