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Rapid City Man Awarded $776,000 for Wife’s Death

Jurors in Rapid City, IA recently awarded Don McLaren $776,000 in a medical malpractice verdict against Dr. Wesley Sufficool.  McLaren’s wife, Karla, died in 2011 after learning that she had late-stage liver disease, attributable to a botched gallbladder removal surgery that Dr. Sufficool performed in 2010.  According to records, Karla was severely jaundiced following the procedure and in a great deal of pain.  Doctors soon discovered the problem when she was hospitalized from her symptoms in 2011: the surgical staples used during the gallbladder surgery had cut off the flow of bile into the digestive system.  The staples should have been on the cystic duct, but were found on her left and right hepatic ducts.  Dr. Sufficool insists he did not place the staples where they were found.

Surgical Staples Removed, But Too Late

In 2011, doctors removed the staples from the wrong place in Karla’s body, but she was well on her way to liver failure.  She was placed on a liver transplant list, but was unfortunately diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease 18 months later.  She spent the rest of her days in a nursing home because of her poor health.  Her husband, Don, says that he drove over every day to see her and she never stopped smiling despite her suffering.  He took his wedding vows very seriously, he says, and that he enjoyed feeding her as she neared the end of her life.

Autopsy Cannot Differentiate Between Lou Gehrig’s Damage and Liver Damage, Jury Decides in Man’s Favor

Although an autopsy performed after Karla’s passing could not differentiate whether she had died from the damage caused by Lou Gehrig’s or the late-stage liver damage, Don’s attorney asked the jury only to decide whether Dr. Sufficool’s botched gallbladder removal surgery had contributed to her suffering and late-stage liver disease, not her death.  The jury decided in her favor, and although Don says the money won’t ease his heart’s emptiness over losing his love, he still found a certain satisfaction in prevailing for Karla.

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