WASHINGTON: A US court has overturned a verdict to award a staggering USD 20 million to the family of an Indian-origin woman who died after doctors at a Detroit-area hospital mistakenly performed brain surgery on her.
Bimla Nayyar, 81, was admitted to Oakwood Healthcare's Dearborn hospital in January 2012 for a routine jaw realignment. But due to an extraordinary blunder and records mix-up, she underwent the unnecessary brain surgery and spent 60 days on life support before she died, Washington Post reported.
In 2015, a jury awarded Nayyar's family USD 20 million. But Michigans highest court says they cannot collect a penny all because of an apparently bad legal gamble.
The Michigan Supreme Court faulted the family's lawyers for arguing that Nayyar,s death was the result of ordinary negligence, a claim that places no limits on the amount of money plaintiffs can be awarded.
An earlier ruling in the case had effectively barred the lawyers from pursuing an ordinary negligence claim, the justices wrote. Instead, they should have argued medical malpractice, under which financial awards are capped.
It was a colossal blunder, wrote Chief Justice Stephen J Markman.
"This case involves a remarkable confluence of what appears to be both medical and legal dereliction," he wrote, "resulting in an extraordinary miscarriage of justice."