Judge slashes 'shockingly excessive' orthopedic malpractice verdict by $100M


A federal judge has reduced a $111 million jury award in a malpractice verdict against Sartell, Minn.-based St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates to $10 million, calling the original "shockingly excessive," according to a Nov. 8 report from the StarTribune.

The original verdict was by far the largest medical malpractice verdict in Minnesota's history, according to the report. 

The $111.3 million in damages, including $110 million for pain and suffering, was awarded to college student Anuj Thapa, who was taken by ambulance to St. Cloud in 2017 for surgery after fracturing his left leg. 

The surgery was performed by on-call orthopedic surgeon Chad Holien, MD. Mr. Thapa claimed that despite expressing concerns about severe pain following the procedure, he was discharged from the hospital. 

Six days later he returned and an additional surgeon, Matthew Hwang, MD, discovered that Mr. Thapa experienced acute compartment syndrome. Mr. Thapa underwent more than 20 surgeries and has been left with permanent damage. 

He later filed a lawsuit against the system in 2019 for failure to appropriately evaluate his symptoms and diagnose and treat his acute compartment syndrome. 

On Oct. 26, a magistrate judge for U.S. District Court in Minnesota ruled Mr. Thapa must accept a newly decided $10 million award for pain and suffering or retry the case.

The judge's ruling does not impact $1.25 million that Mr. Thapa received for economic damages. 

The judge has given Mr. Thapa until Nov. 28 to decide whether he will accept a $10 million award.

"We're weighing our options as to how we are going to deal with the order," Brandon Thompson, Mr. Thapa's attorney, told the StarTribune. 

St. Cloud Orthopedic had asked for a new trial or jury award reduction, alleging errors and misconduct by Mr. Thapa's attorneys and claiming that the jury was tainted by "passion and prejudice" in its decision. The judge rejected all of those claims, agreeing only that the award was excessive.

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