Jury Awards $1.2 Million After “Negligent” Spine Surgery
Walter Eisner • Thu, August 3rd, 2017
In July 2011, Michael Thomas, D.O., a neurosurgeon in Washington State, performed spinal surgery on Emily Daley to treat her scoliosis.
Six years later, on July 31, 2017, a Washington state jury awarded Daley $1.2 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit because Thomas's "negligent" surgery caused her severe spinal deformity.
The jury took six hours to deliberate after a seven-day trial. The jury agreed that the surgery left her spine in a forward and left-leaning position. Daley's attorney said his client suffered from chronic pain for three years before having a different surgeon perform a corrective surgery.
According to a verdict form reported by Law360, the jury found that Thomas’ negligence was a proximate cause of Daley’s injuries and awarded her about $219,000 for past medical expenses and $1 million in noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
One of Daley's attorneys said court records indicate that there has not been a jury verdict in favor of a medical negligence plaintiff in Yakima County in several years, which underscores the severity of the patient’s injuries and the doctor’s malpractice.
Daley file the suit in June 2015, claiming that Thomas and his practice, Cascade Neurosurgical Associates PLLC, negligently performed the surgery and failed to provide adequate post-operative treatment. The allegedly substandard care left Daley in severe and chronic pain for three years until it was finally corrected by a spinal surgeon in August 2014, Daley’s attorneys said.
The case is Emily Daley v. Michael Thomas D.O. et al., case number 15-2-01491-8, in the Washington State District Court, Yakima County.
According to the Yakima Herald, this is not the first time Thomas’ care has been called into question.
Thomas was previously put on probation by the state Department of Health, after he was found to be under the influence of narcotics while performing a neck and spine operation in 2012.
The newspaper reported that when hospital colleagues reported “abnormal behavior” in the operating room during a March 2012 neck and spine surgery, Thomas tested positive for narcotics and benzodiazapines, according to state Department of Health documents.
The patient from that surgery suffered postoperative difficulties, the documents say.
Thomas had filled numerous painkiller prescription in late 2011 and early 2012 after undergoing back surgery himself.
After the operation in which he was removed from surgery, Thomas voluntarily completed inpatient treatment at the Washington Physicians’ Health Program, and then in 2014 reached a probation agreement with the Department of Health whereby he had to submit to random drug tests and be monitored by another physician.
According to the Department of Health website, Thomas’ medical license was last renewed in January 2015. As of January 2016, his credentials are expired.