Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 12, 2014

Greenup jury returns $6M malpractice verdict

GREENUP — A Greenup Circuit Court jury has returned a $6 million verdict in a malpractice suit against a local orthopedist.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours on Tuesday before finding in favor of Barbara and Danny Pugh in their lawsuit against Dr. Thomas Robert Love.

The suit stemmed from a knee-replacement operation Barbara Pugh underwent in 2009 that ultimately resulted in her having the prosthetic knee removed and her leg fused, said the Pughs’ attorney, Mitchell Kinner of Prestonburg.

The verdict concluded a four-day trial before Special Judge Rebecca Phillips.

Jurors voted 10-2 in favor of the Pughs and awarded the plaintiffs $5 million for pain and suffering and $1 million for past medical expenses, Kinner said. Unlike in criminal cases, jury verdicts in civil trials do not have to be unanimous.

According to Kinner, Love performed right knee-replacement surgery on Barbara Pugh at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in January 2009. The following month, she developed an infection in the area of the replacement knee, he said.

Love tried to bring the infection under control using two different procedures, but was unable to do so, Kinner said. The prosthetic knee ultimately had to be removed and the bones in Barbara Pugh’s leg fused together, leaving her without a knee entirely, he said.

Jurors found that leaving the replacement in place after the infection set in caused Barbara Pugh to become septic, which affected her kidney function. Pugh still has to undergo kidney dialysis three times a day, Kinner said.

The suit originally named several other defendants, including OLBH and Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the sutures Love used on Barbara Pugh. However, the others were all dismissed from the action, leaving Love as the sole defendant.

Kinner said the Pugh family was pleased with the verdict. Danny Pugh died in March and Barbara Pugh is in a nursing home in Ohio, he said. The Pugh family owns Castle’s Jewelry, a well-known and long-running Paintsville business.

The verdict and jury award are likely to be appealed. Love’s attorney, Clayton Robinson of Lexington, was not available for comment on Thursday.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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