Jury: Hospital negligent, but no monetary award to woman

By From page A3 | June 19, 2014

FAIRFIELD — A woman hospitalized at NorthBay Medical Center for several days in 2008 lost a multimillion-dollar negligence lawsuit Wednesday that she filed more than five years ago.

The verdict came after a seven-week trial.

In her lawsuit, Sally Chaney claimed the hospital, its nurses and a pair of doctors had all missed symptoms of a spinal cord compression and rupture that eventually led to her being transferred to another hospital for surgery.

Lawyers for the hospital conceded negligence had occurred because medical records showed Chaney did not have her neurological status checked every four hours as doctors had ordered. However, the lawyers said the negligence did not lead to Chaney’s ruptured spinal cord. They blamed the rupture on a workplace injury Chaney suffered in 1995 that a doctor at the time said left her spine “a walking time bomb.”

Jurors voted unanimously that NorthBay was guilty of negligence. They split 9-3 on the question of whether the negligence led to her 2008 injuries that resulted in Chaney suffering partial paralysis and requiring a walker for limited mobility. With nine jurors voting against the hospital and doctors being responsible, Chaney ended up being awarded nothing.

Unlike criminal jury trials that require unanimity, civil jury trials only require nine jurors to agree for a verdict.

Chaney’s lawyers had several expert witnesses and ongoing consultations with other experts before the trial that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for Chaney’s legal action.

Her lawyers had sought more than $5 million in damage payments for their client partly because her future medical costs would be nearly $150,000 each year.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 2 comments

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  • JimboJune 19, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    Meanwhile Northbay Spine Center became a reality and then suddenly disappeared completely. No mention of this at all which is also strange.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • just sayin'June 20, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    she walked into the hospital and left a quadriplegic. it's not over. Where is Dr. Sonu anyway? Hush Hush that he is gone.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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