Oregon’s Damages Cap & Medical Malpractice: Croff Case Examined

Caps on Damages for Medical Malpractice in Oregon

In medical malpractice cases, damages are awarded to patients who incur injuries from negligent acts by doctors. However, some states have caps that limit the amount of money awarded for damages to injured patients.

The Croff Case

In 2013, a primary care doctor ordered an MRI of 28-year-old Jason Croff’s spine that showed a massive herniated disc in his lumbar spine. The disk nearly effaced his spinal canal, which severely compressed his cauda equina. Mr. Croff went to Warren G. Roberts, M.D. in Tualatin, Oregon for surgery to remove the disc.

Dr. Roberts performed surgery on Mr. Croff in an attempt to remove the herniated disc and relieve compression on his cauda equina. According to testimony by a neurosurgeon who re-operated on Mr. Croff, the surgery performed by Dr. Roberts did not result in any decompressive effects on his spinal canal. Post-surgery, Mr. Croff suffered from partial Cauda Equina Syndrome, which led to permanent neurological damage below his waist.

On June 30, 2015, Mr. Croff and his wife filed a medical malpractice claim against Dr. Roberts in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon. The plaintiffs claimed that Dr. Roberts mishandled the surgery partly by failing to decompress the cauda equina.

Dr. Roberts did not consent to a settlement which led to the plaintiffs spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical expert testimony and litigation expenses.

The Verdict

On August 2nd, 2017, after an eight-day trial, a jury awarded Mr. Croff and his wife more than $4.5 million in damages. Dr. Roberts’ medical malpractice insurance covered him for $1 million. Following the verdict, his insurance company offered the Croffs the $1 million amount as a settlement. If the Croffs had not accepted the settlement amount, the insurance company would have filed a motion to reduce the judgment to the cap.

Since Dr. Roberts already had hundreds of thousands of dollars in unsatisfied judgments filed against him and no longer had surgical privileges at any hospital, the Croffs had accepted the insurance company’s settlement offer.

A History of Medical Malpractice & Litigation

A pretrial deposition indicates that Dr. Roberts ceased to perform neurological surgeries after his privileges were revoked at the Legacy Health and Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin.

According to the Oregon Medical Board, Dr. Roberts has been practicing medicine since 2001. He was issued a Complaint & Notice of Proposed Disciplinary action in 2014 and 2015 based on possible violation of the Medical Practice Act for “unprofessional or dishonorable conduct and gross or repeated acts of negligence.”

In 2014, Dr. Roberts was a plaintiff in the Roberts v. Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, Inc. case in which he filed a lawsuit against the hospital stating that racial discrimination and competition from other doctors caused his privileges to be revoked. He sought $30 million in non-economic damages.

Jurors for the Croff case were not allowed to hear about Dr. Roberts’ previous cases as the judge ruled them irrelevant.

We invite you to learn more about medical malpractice in Oregon, caps on damages, and how the lawyers at Miller & Wagner can help you. When jurors award money to a patient injured by medical malpractice in Oregon, patients may not receive all of the compensation awarded by the jury. View our checklist to learn more.

How can our medical malpractice attorneys help you? Miller & Wagner is led by Dave Miller and Bob Wagner, who each have more than 30 years’ experience in medical malpractice cases. We represent patients in medical negligence claims against physicians and health care providers throughout Oregon and Washington. Get details.