SOURCE: Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane & Woodruff

Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane & Woodruff

April 19, 2012 11:01 ET

Largest Jury Verdict Awarded in Fort Collins, Colo., History

Insurance Company Makes Payment on $3.9 Million for Mother Paralyzed by Medical Error

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - Apr 19, 2012) - Colorado's main medical malpractice insurer, COPIC Insurance Co., recently made payment on the largest jury verdict ever awarded in Fort Collins, Colo., announced Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane & Woodruff, LLP. The payment by Denver-based COPIC satisfied a judgment of nearly $4 million against former emergency department physician Jeffrey Updegraff and put an end to a case that had tormented his patient, Kristin Myatt, for more than five years.

In December 2006, Kristin Myatt, then age 34, arrived at the Emergency Department at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, complaining of "the worst headache of her life" and other neurologic symptoms such as weakness and dizziness. She also had severely elevated blood pressure -- as high as 204/97, which is dangerously high for a woman in her early 30s. According to testimony, Updegraff assumed that Myatt was simply suffering a migraine headache, gave her pain medication and discharged her from the ER. In fact, she was experiencing a small bleed in her brain, which could have been easily identified on CT scan and treated with medication.

She was subsequently paralyzed on her right side. Attorney David S. Woodruff, a partner at the Denver-based law firm Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane & Woodruff, represented the Myatt family in recovering her damages from Updegraff and his insurance company.

"Krissy Myatt's life was ruined by a relatively obvious medical error," said Woodruff, who specializes in medical malpractice and other complex personal injury cases. "There was not really any legitimate question about who was at fault. It was a case that should have settled long before trial. Even the doctor himself wanted this case settled."

Under state law, physicians in Colorado are required to carry medical malpractice insurance to cover injuries such as Myatt's. Updegraff urged his insurance carrier to settle the case and pay Myatt his policy limits of $1 million. Instead, COPIC Insurance Co. forced Woodruff and the Myatt family to proceed with a lawsuit against Updegraff and take their case to trial.

The $3.9 million was the largest jury verdict ever rendered in Larimer County, Colorado, according to the Colorado Jury Verdict Reporter.

Medical malpractice suits are relatively rare in Colorado, with fewer than 100 cases filed each year.

About Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane & Woodruff
HWKS&W is one of the preeminent personal injury law firms in the Rocky Mountain region, with attorneys representing in complex injury cases such as medical malpractice, defective products, brain and spinal cord injuries, wrongful death, and birth injuries. In 2011, David S. Woodruff, a partner in the firm, earned national recognition by obtaining the largest medical malpractice arbitration award in U.S. history -- a $70 million award against a California HMO. Three of the firm's partners have been named to the list of Best Lawyers in America. For information call 303-242-8823 or go to www.hwkslaw.com.

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