Texas family sues New Orleans hospitals after husband's paralysis

By Elizabeth Young | Apr 25, 2013

Steve C. Thompson

NEW ORLEANS – A Texas man is accusing a slew of doctors and two hospitals of medical malpractice following a spinal surgery he underwent.

Steven and Renesiaha Marshall, individually and on behalf of their minor children filed suit against Touro Infirmary, the Touro Infirmary Foundation, the State of Louisiana, the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Mace Scott M.D., Philip Paulk M.D., Ikechukwu John Obih M.D. and Gabriel C. Tender M.D. in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on March 1.

The incidents in question took place in early August 2009 when the Marshall family was vacationing in New Orleans. Steven Marshall had been experiencing severe back pain and intermittent bouts of fever for a few weeks before presenting to the Touro Emergency Room complaining of excruciating back pain on Aug. 5.

The suit claims that the pain Marshall reported was a 10/10 on a pain scale and “relieved by nothing.”  Scott gave Marshall injections of Toradol and Norco and refilled the pain medication that had been prescribed by Marshall’s doctor in Texas for the same complaint.

Marshall returned to his hotel room and fell asleep. When he awoke he was weak, unable to move his legs and unable to get out of bed. He was returned to the emergency room and admitted into Touro Infirmary. The staff at the hospital began running a series of tests and scans and after about four hours Marshall was diagnosed with a spinal epidural abscess. The hospital contacted Tender, the on-call neurosurgeon, who arrived about an hour later to perform emergency surgery.

The surgery was intended to prevent or mitigate permanent paralysis, but post-operatively Marshall was left a quadriplegic.

Scott is accused of negligence for failing to take and adequate history of Marshall, failing to admit Marshall for observation, failing to order, run, and/or interpret lab work for the patient, failing to timely order appropriate tests and procedures including CT scan and MRI, failing to timely and properly treat Marshall’s medical condition, failing to timely refer Marshall the the appropriate specialist, failing to timely and correctly perform and treat Marshall’s epidural abscess, discharging Marshall without having provided adequate or appropriate treatment and failing to properly treat Marshall under the circumstances.

Paulk and Obih are accused of negligence for failing to recognize the urgency of the emergency, failing to expedite treatment to avoid permanent and irreversible paralysis, neurological deficits and other adverse health outcomes and failing to timely contact and consult with a neurosurgeon.

Tender is accused of failing to timely arrive at Touro and/or perform surgery on Marshall, failing to properly test examine and or treat the patient’s medical condition, failing to operate on Marshall sooner, failing to exercise reasonable care in the surgery and failing to treat Marshall appropriately under the circumstances.

An unspecified amount of damages is sought for permanent and irreversible quadriplegia, past, present and future physical injury, past, present and future pain and suffering, past, present and future mental anguish and emotional distress, past, present and future impairment of function, past, present and future loss of enjoyment of life, past, present and future medical expenses, disfigurement, permanent disability, past, present and future loss of wages, loss of future earning capacity and loss of a chance of survival or a better outcome. The suit also seeks damages for Renesiaha Marshall and her two daughter for loss of consortium.

The defendants have requested a jury trial.

The Marshalls are represented by Steve C. Thompson of Baton Rouge-based Moore, Thompson & Lee APLC.

The case has been assigned to Division C Judge Sidney H. Cates IV.

Case No. 2013-2105.

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