PHILADELPHIA — A woman who blamed a CAT scan for loss of her psychic powers has been awarded more than $1 million by a jury, but a "shocked" hospital attorney said Friday that the verdict will be appealed.
"If the verdict is allowed to stand, it's an outrage and an example of why the American tort system has to be changed," said Richard R. Galli, an attorney for Temple University Hospital, where the CAT scan, a type of X-ray, was performed.
Judge Leon Katz gave Galli 10 days to submit written arguments.
Jury Out Briefly
A jury deliberated about 45 minutes Thursday before awarding Judith Richardson Haimes, 42, $600,000 plus an estimated $418,000 in interest, her attorney, Joel M. Lieberman, said.
Haimes contended that, as a result of the CAT scan in 1976, she suffered severe headaches when she tried to concentrate to use her psychic powers. Lieberman said that Haimes had previously earned her living as a psychic in New Castle, Del., and was able to read people's auras, conduct seances, observe the past and help police solve crimes.
After the jury heard Haimes' case, Katz ruled that she had failed to prove her charge that the CAT scan had left her with the headaches.
He ordered the jury to disregard Haimes' allegations about her lost psychic powers and consider only her testimony about the allergic reaction she suffered from a dye injected during the CAT scan.
Galli contended that the jury had not listened to the judge's instructions, had not understood them or disregarded them in reaching its verdict. The jurors were not available for comment.
"There is no way in the world a person who walked out of the hospital, did not pass out, did not lose consciousness, whose heart did not stop beating, who did not stop breathing is entitled to pain and suffering in that amount of money," Galli said. "I was shocked."
But Lieberman disagreed, maintaining that the award would have been much higher if the jury had been allowed to consider Haimes' loss of psychic powers and loss of business earnings.
Verdict Called Fair
"I think the jury was intelligent enough to listen to the judge's instruction and follow it," he said. "I think the verdict was fair based upon what the jury had in front of them. It's a shame they were not able to consider the entire case."
Lieberman said that Haimes, who underwent the CAT scan as part of a search for the cause of recurring tumors, had told hospital personnel she was allergic to the dye used in the scan.
"Within moments of the test being begun, she had nausea, she was unable to breathe, she felt her eyes rolling back into her head--as a matter of fact, she thought she was on her way to dying," Lieberman said. He said the test was immediately stopped.
A CAT scan is a sophisticated form of X-ray that enables doctors to see cross sections of the body.