By Todd Kleffman
The mother of a teenager who died after routine surgery received one of the largest jury awards in Montgomery County history when a circuit court jury awarded her $14.5 million Monday.
"It's a substantial verdict, probably the third or fourth highest we've ever had," said Montgomery County Court Administrator Bob Merrill. "I think I can safely say it's the biggest verdict we've ever had in a medical malpractice case."
The jury decided in favor of Johnnie Timmons, whose daughter, Brandi Timmons, 17, died following elective surgery to correct an overbite in 1998.
Brandi never awoke after being anesthetized for the surgery, which took place at Baptist East Medical Center.
Johnnie Timmons filed a wrongful death lawsuit against anesthesiologist Dr. William Ware, nurse Lil Hayes and Anesthesiology and Pain Management of Montgomery. Ware was a partner in the medical group, which has disbanded since Brandi's death.
The trial, held before Judge Charles Price, lasted two weeks. Jurors began deliberations Friday afternoon and returned Monday morning to finish their work. They deliberated about five hours over the two days.
After the verdict was announced, Buddy Brown, one of Timmons' attorneys, thanked the jury, which he called "courageous."
"Hopefully, the practice of anesthesiology will change for the better in light of what this jury has done," Brown said.
Randy Sellers, one of the attorneys who represented Ware and Hayes, said his clients likely will appeal the verdict.
"This process is not completed," Sellers said. "We feel quite strongly that the tragic outcome was not the fault of William Ware or Lil Hayes. They are exceedingly fine people and outstanding professionals."
During the trial, plaintiff's attorneys told jurors that the anesthesiology team made several critical errors in treating Brandi. They gave her too strong a dose of narcotics, the attorneys argued, and withdrew a breathing tube before she was able to breathe on her own. Once they realized the mistake, the medical team was slow to reinsert the breathing tube and gave Brandi the wrong medicine to help her recover, the lawyers said.
The medical team also altered medical records in the case to cover up their mistakes, the lawyers said.
Ware and Hayes left the courtroom without comment. Johnnie Timmons also declined to speak about the verdict.
Brandi was a senior at Sidney Lanier High School, where she was a cheerleader and member of the Lanier Academic Magnet Program, which later became the separate Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School.
LAMP annually awards a Brandi Timmons academic scholarship in her honor, said Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips, who created the scholarship after the death of Timmons, who was a classmate and friend of his daughter, Grace.
"That young lady was just beloved by everyone," McPhillips said.