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A Bucks County jury on Tuesday awarded more than $4.3 million in a medical malpractice suit brought by an 87-year-old man who claimed he suffered serious brain damage from a subdural hematoma because an emergency room doctor failed to order a CAT scan that would have detected it. Plaintiff Emil Godshall, a father of four who now has 12 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson, was awarded $1.35 million for past medical expenses, $525,000 for future medical expenses and nursing home care, and $2.5 million for pain and suffering, for a total verdict of $4.375 million. According to court papers, Godshall was 74 when he fell while working and struck the back of his head. When he was taken to the emergency room at Grand View Hospital, Marie Bush diagnosed Godshall as suffering a concussion and abrasions and sent him home, the suit said. But 11 hours later, Godshall was rushed back to the ER unconscious and in a coma. He was soon airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where he underwent an emergency craniotomy to evacuate severe subdural hematomas. At trial, Godshall’s lawyers – Jeffrey M. Kornblau and Robert T. Szostak of Kornblau & Kornblau in Jenkintown – told the jury that Bush as the attending ER doctor should have ordered a CAT scan because Godshall had numerous “risk factors” that made him a likely candidate for a hematoma. Expert witnesses testifying for the plaintiff said a CAT scan was mandated because Godshall was over 70, was on blood-thinning medication, had lost consciousness after his fall and was suffering from retrograde amnesia. Kornblau said the delay in detecting the hematoma had devastating effects. Before the fall, he said, Godshall was a vital 74-year-old who regularly worked with the Mennonite Disaster Service, where he would go to hurricane and flood disasters to help victims in need by rebuilding their homes and lives. His service missions included rendering aid to families stricken by hurricanes Agnes, Hugo and Andrew. But the 11 hours of bleeding in his brain left Godshall completely disabled and facing the rest of his life in a nursing home, he said. According to court papers, Godshall was comatose for about three weeks, required a tracheostomy to breathe and was fed through a tube. He remained minimally responsive over the next several weeks before he began to make utterances. After he was medically stabilized, Godshall was transferred to a rehabilitation center for five months and was ultimately transferred to the Rockhill Mennonite Community, a nursing facility. He has never gone home, according to court papers, with the exception of day-trips to visit family and church. The brain damage Godshall suffered has left him permanently unable to use his right leg and impaired the use of his right arm. He also suffers from speech problems and cognitive dysfunction that makes it impossible for him to make decisions, according to court papers. Kornblau said the 12-member jury heard testimony over seven days and deliberated about four hours before returning its verdict late on Tuesday. The judge in the case was Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Susan Devlin Scott. Prior to the trial, Kornblau said, the defense had made no offers of settlement. Defense attorney Benjamin A. Post of Post & Post in Berwyn said yesterday that “there are substantial issues that will be appealed,” but declined to discuss any of those issues in detail.

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