Sayles Werbner Earns Rare Texas Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Punitive Damages Award in Medical Malpractice Case
AUSTIN – Attorneys from the Dallas litigation firm Sayles Werbner are announcing a rare Supreme Court of Texas opinion upholding a medical malpractice award for the family of a man who died of a heart attack after waiting 12 hours for treatment following his admission to a hospital emergency room for chest pains.
The opinion issued by the high court on Friday in Columbia Medical Center of Los Colinas Inc. d/b/a Las Colinas Medical Center v. Athena Hogue, et al., No. 04-0575, affirms an earlier appeals court holding of negligence against Columbia Medical, as well as actual and gross negligence damages. The opinion also reversed an award for loss of inheritance damages.
Attorneys from Sayles Werbner represented the wife and family of Robert Hogue Jr. in the trial heard in Dallas state district court in 2001. Mr. Hogue died in 1998 after waiting hours for treatment at the Las Colinas Medical Center near Dallas. Jurors awarded $9.2 million in compensatory damages and $21 million in actual damages after the Sayles Werbner team presented evidence that Mr. Hogue’s treatment was delayed because of poor hospital policies and lack of staffing.
The 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas reduced the total award to approximately $5.4 million in 2004 based on existing Texas laws limiting damage awards in health care claims. The case had been pending at the Supreme Court of Texas since the appeals court ruling.
Mr. Hogue’s son, Christopher Hogue, was a first-year law student at Texas Tech University School of Law when the jury verdict was returned. He now works as an attorney at Sayles Werbner.
“We are extremely pleased to finally have this case resolved through this just, but infrequent affirmance of punitive damages,” says attorney Mark Werbner, co-founder of Sayles Werbner and trial counsel for the Hogue family. “This opinion is especially gratifying because the Hogues have had to wait so long for the court to rule. The Supreme Court of Texas is known far and wide for reversing court judgments favoring plaintiffs, particularly in medical malpractice cases, and it is important that this decision is perhaps putting a halt to that trend.”
Under the court’s ruling, defendant Columbia Medical must pay the Hogue family approximately $10 million when the amount of pre- and post-judgment interest is included with the $5.4 million award of actual and punitive damages.
Sayles Werbner has an international reputation as a "go to" trial law firm in multifaceted business litigation, intellectual property, life-altering personal injury cases, product safety lawsuits and other areas of the law.