YAKIMA, WA – Yesterday, a Yakima jury returned a $1.2 million verdict against Dr. Michael Thomas of Cascade Neurosurgical Associates for negligently performing a spinal surgery in July 2011 that left his patient with a severe spinal deformity for three years before it was finally corrected by a second surgery.
The plaintiff, Emily Daley, 42, suffered from scoliosis since she was a teenager, but her back pain became insufferable in the summer of 2011. In July of 2011, Dr. Thomas performed scoliosis surgery on Daley to assist with her pain. While the surgery initially provided some pain relief, according to testimony by medical experts during trial, Thomas’ sub-standard care and lack of adequate follow-up left Daley with severe, chronic pain, and left her spine in a forward and left leaning position.
After obtaining care from numerous providers and consulting with several local spine surgeons for more than three years, Daley’s forward and left lean was ultimately corrected in an August 2014 operation performed by Dr. Lawrence Lenke, an internationally renowned spine surgeon who was then practicing in St. Louis and is now in New York, New York.
According to Felix Luna, an attorney from Peterson Wampold Rosato Feldman Luna who, together with Tomás Gahan, tried the case on behalf of Mrs. Daley, the years between the botched surgery in 2011 and the 2014 procedure that resolved the problem were extraordinarily difficult for her.
“When I first met Emily, we were sitting and talking when the pain in her back became so severe that she passed out,” Luna said. “That was not uncommon and was the reality of her life, day in and day out, for more than three years.” Luna also stated that “Emily, her family, and our firm are all deeply appreciative to the jury for their thoughtful consideration of this case.”
Court records show that this is the first jury award for a plaintiff in a medical negligence case in Yakima in many years, and according to Luna, underscores the severity of Daley’s injuries and the substandard care that she received.
“We hope this verdict leads to safer practices for future patients, by showing surgeons that they must always adhere to the standard of care.” Emily Daley agreed, stating that “I really hope this verdict helps to protect other patients in the future.”