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JURY SIDES WITH MOTHER OF TEEN WHO DIED IN SURGERY

Jun 24, 2003

The Associated Press
6/24/2003, 10:13 a.m. CT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A jury awarded $14.5 million to the mother of a teenager who died after elective surgery to correct an overbite.

The two-week trial ended Monday with jurors deciding in favor of Johnnie Timmons, whose 17-year-old daughter Brandi never woke up after undergoing the routine procedure at Baptist East Medical Center in 1998.

Timmons filed a wrongful death suit 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 since disbanded.

One of Timmons' attorneys, Greg Breedlove of Mobile, said the size of the verdict "is a reflection of the wrongdoing in this case."

Randy Sellers, an attorney for Ware and Hayes, said his clients likely will appeal.

"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."

Timmons' lawyers told jurors the anesthesiology team made critical errors, including giving the patient too strong a dose of narcotics and withdrawing a breathing tube before she could 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 team also altered medical records in the case to cover up their mistakes, the lawyers said.

Ware and Hayes declined comment, as did Timmons.

Brandi was a senior at Montgomery's Sidney Lanier High School, where she was a cheerleader and member of an accelerated academic program.

An academic scholarship is now awarded annually in her honor, said attorney Julian McPhillips, who created the scholarship. Brandi was a classmate and friend of McPhillips' daughter Grace.

"That young lady was just beloved by everyone," McPhillips said.

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