Michigan State Supreme Court in the US, on Friday (February 16) nullified an earlier court order awarding a whopping $20 million to the family of an 81-year-old Indian-American woman who died after a surgery blunder in 2012.
When Bimla Nayyar, 81, dislocated her jaw and went to Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center for a surgery in January 2012, her medical records got interchanged with another patient and the doctors ended up operating her skull for brain bleeding.
Nayyar never recovered from the wrong surgery held at the hospital in Dearborn, Michigan and was on life support for the last 60 days before passing away due to the complications.
As a compensation for her death, Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan awarded the Indian-American family a whopping $20 million in 2015.
However, the Michigan State Supreme Court on Friday quashed the verdict of the lower court citing that the death was caused due to "ordinary negligence and not malpractice". Financial awards are capped under medical malpractice and not ordinary negligence, according to the Washington Post report. With the latest court verdict, the family of the deceased will get practically nothing as compensation.
What went against the claims of the plaintiff was that the family's lawyers presented the case as an ordinary negligence. Had the family's lawyer filed the case alleging medical malpractice, they would have received a compensation of at least $800,000 under Michigan law, the Detroit News reported.
Oakwood Hospital's lawyers said the Nayyar's lawyers made a mistake when they made an "all or nothing... bad bet" on a negligence claim, reports said.
The chief justice of Michigan State Supreme Court, Justice Markman called the case a "medical and legal dereliction, resulting in an extraordinary miscarriage of justice," as he sympathized with the family.
"To summarize, plaintiff now has no negligence claim and no medical malpractice claim, all despite the fact that (a) defendant-hospital openly admitted negligence, (b) a jury determined that this negligence constituted the proximate cause of plaintiff's death, and (c) a jury awarded plaintiff a $20 million verdict," wrote Chief Justice Markman in his decision.
Nayyar is survived by her husband, a son, two daughters and many grandchildren. Her ashes were taken back to India by her son who immersed it in River Ganga.