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$17.1 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

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$17.1 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict Obtained in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

On April 6, 2022 Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. obtained a jury verdict of $17,107,000 in D.C. Superior Court in the case of Shanay Batey, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Tiffaney Dunbar v. Washington Hospital Center.  This is the highest verdict reported by DC Superior Court statistics in at least 15 years.  

This was a wrongful death case that arose as a result of negligent treatment at the Washington Hospital Center’s Women’s Wellness Clinic. Tiffaney Dunbar was 33 years old at the time of her death, and had 3 minor children.   Ms. Dunbar presented to the Washington Women’s Wellness Center on February 7, 2017 complaining of vaginal bleeding, which she had been experiencing for two weeks.   She was seen by a nurse practitioner who ordered a rapid pregnancy test.   The rapid pregnancy test showed that Ms. Dunbar was pregnant.  The nurse practitioner then ordered bloodwork and performed a bedside transvaginal ultrasound.  The nurse practitioner could not confirm the presence of a fetus in the uterus while performing the bedside ultrasound.   This should have been a red flag that Ms. Dunbar likely had an ectopic pregnancy.  An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube.  An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency.  The fallopian tubes are not designed to hold a growing fetus.  As the fetus grows, it will cause the fallopian tube to rupture.  This will cause excessive bleeding, and will likely lead to death.  

After not seeing the fetus in the uterus, the nurse practitioner failed to even look in the fallopian tubes, which she could have easily done while performing the bedside ultrasound.  Instead, she instructed Ms. Dunbar to come back to the clinic in two days to get follow-up bloodwork. Unfortunately, Ms. Dunbar did not understand the deadly nature of her condition and did not return to get the bloodwork.  The nurse practitioner called Ms. Dubar a few days after Ms. Dunbar did not appear for the bloodwork.  The nurse asked Ms. Dunbar to come into the clinic for the missed bloodwork but again failed to tell Ms. Dunbar that she might have an ectopic pregnancy, which could be deadly.   Unfortunately, the ectopic pregnancy ruptured on February 17, 2022, causing Ms. Dunbar’s death.   

The jury found the hospital negligent and found that the nurse practitioner failed to properly inform Ms. Dunbar of her potentially fatal condition. The jury awarded $15,000,000 to the deceased’s three minor children for loss of education, guidance, and support, $500,000 for 30 minutes of conscious pain and suffering, and $1,607,000 for lost wages and lost household services.  

This is the highest reported verdict in a personal injury or medical malpractice case in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, since at least 2007, based on the data on the Superior Court’s website.. The  previous reported highest verdict was $14,350,000 in 2019.

This unnecessary death is tragic, but we are glad that we were able to bring justice to this family and hold the Washington Hospital Center accountable.    

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