A Navy veteran who suffered permanent paralysis of his legs after being misdiagnosed at a veterans’ hospital has settled his medical malpractice claims for $1 million, his attorneys report.
When Duane Keezer visited the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Charleston on March 2, 2017, he was told that the radiating lower back and groin pain he felt could be remedied with pain medication and muscle relaxers. As such, he was given a prescription and discharge papers.
But just 10 days later, back in the hospital for the same ailment, medical providers at the Waccamaw Community Hospital noted signs and symptoms of a central nervous system infection, Keezer’s attorneys said, and diagnosed him with a potentially life-threatening spinal epidural abscess. The diagnosis led to Keezer being transferred back to VAMC for imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis and, if required, treatment.
Keezer was represented by Brad Lanford and Janek Kazmierski of the Law Offices of Kenneth E. Berger in Columbia and Thomas Valet of Rappaport, Glass, Levine, & Zullo in Islandia, New York.
“Despite the indications of an infection and a diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess, no treatment was initiated for many hours,” Keezer’s attorneys wrote in a statement to Lawyers Weekly. “During this delay in treatment, (Keezer’s) condition worsened.”
The attorneys said that their client suffered from night sweats, chills, and numbness and weakening of his legs.
“Ultimately, due to the significant delay in confirming and treating the spinal abscess, Duane suffered spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paralysis of his legs,” the attorneys wrote.
Keezer’s attorneys noted that the case was settled after mediation originally ended in an impasse.
The defendant was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christie Newman of Columbia. Newman did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
SETTLEMENT REPORT — MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Amount: $1 million
Injuries alleged: Nerve damage and partial paralysis
Case name: Duane Keezer and Sharon Keezer vs. The United States of America
Court: U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
Case No.: 2:21-cv-01985
Judge: David Norton
Date of settlement: Nov. 15, 2022
Most helpful experts: Dr. Robert Powers (hospitalist) of Charlottesville, Virginia
Attorneys for plaintiff: Brad Lanford and Janek Kazmierski of the Law Offices of Kenneth E. Berger in Columbia and Thomas Valet of Rappaport, Glass, Levine, & Zullo in Islandia, New York
Attorney for defendant: Assistant U.S. Attorney Christie Newman of Columbia