Medical malpractice settlement came just after Trumbull jury was seated

By Ed Runyan


A medical malpractice lawsuit was settled Monday night, 15 hours before a trial was set to begin Tuesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

A jury was seated in the courtroom of Judge Ronald Rice about an hour before the settlement was reached with three doctors and two medical facilities.

The suit was filed by Linda McCullough of Hubbard, whose complaint alleged that the negligence of six doctors was to blame for her becoming a paraplegic and wheelchair-confined with no movement or sensation in her lower extremities.

The lawsuit says McCullough experienced a sudden onset of pain in the middle of her back, vomiting and chills Aug. 7, 2012. She received treatment Aug. 8, 2012, through Sept. 28, 2012, from Dr. Adon S. Weinberg and also received medical attention from Dr. Peter Bottar from Oct. 1, 2012, through November 2012.

She went to the Northside Medical Center emergency room Oct. 7, 2012, where she was evaluated by Dr. William K. Nowotny, the suit says.

She also underwent X-rays on Oct. 25, 2012, that were interpreted by Dr. Dean R. Ball of Mahoning Valley Imaging and was evaluated by Dr. Shawn M. Donatelli, a pain-management specialist, Nov. 5, 2012, the suit says.

A Nov. 13, 2012, MRI showed that McCullough had a spine condition requiring immediate investigation and immediate referral to an emergency room or neurosurgical service, the suit says.

McCullough was admitted through the emergency room of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital on Nov. 13, 2012, and became the patient of Dr. Kene T. Ugokwe, who performed surgery Nov. 15, 2012, the suit said.

Because of the “combined negligence” of the doctors to perform surgery in a timely fashion, McCullough became a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair with no movement or sensation in her lower extremities, the suit alleged.

At the time of the settlement, three doctors were still part of the case – Weinberg, Ball and Nowotny. Also still part of the case were Northside Medical Center and Mahoning Valley Imaging. The complaints against the three other doctors were resolved earlier, said Atty. Martin White, who filed the suit.

Had the case gone to the jury, jurors might have been asked to assign a “percentage of negligence, if any” to each of the six doctors, White said.

A confidentiality agreement prevents the parties from disclosing details of the resolution, White said.

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