BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WRBL)–An Alabama jury has returned a $9 million verdict in a wrongful death medical malpractice case out of Lee County. The verdict, announced October 11, breaks records for Lee County.
In December 2014, Hope Johnson visited Auburn Urgent Care. Johnson was experiencing sharp chest pains, difficulty breathing, and coughing. She had been there just two days earlier with similar, but milder symptoms. On Johnson’s first visit, she was examined by a doctor, prescribed an antibiotic, and told to come back if she got worse.
When Johnson returned to Auburn Urgent Care, her vital signs were at panic levels. However, it was the first day of work for a new physician at Auburn Urgent Care. The new physician had been instructed by the medical director to see patients without any access to the current or past medical records for any patient.
Johnson’s condition was critical, and an ambulance should have been called to take her to East Alabama Medical Center. Instead, she was sent home with an inhaler. Johnson died the next day of blood clots in the lungs.
Cory Watson Attorneys Leila Watson and Nina Herring, alongside Brett Turnbull of the Turnbull Law Firm, represented the Johnson family in the lawsuit. “Hope’s death is tragic because it was entirely preventable. We don’t know the exact number of patients seen that day, but it was too many,” according to Turnbull. “Patient well-being, not profits, should be the primary goal of healthcare.”
The verdict is the largest in a Lee County medical-malpractice case. The Johnson family released the following statement:
“We are very pleased with the jury decision in the wrongful death case of our precious daughter Hope. We continue to feel her absence every day and pray this decision brings about much-needed change. Our chief desire is that this case will set a precedent that will prevent this from happening to another family or college student, not just in Lee County, but in Alabama as a whole.”