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Stroke victim awarded $11.7 million

June 23, 2007|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

In a malpractice case against two Orange County physicians, a 45-year-old man who suffered a stroke because they failed to treat an infection that had spread to his brain was awarded $11.7 million in damages Friday.

The Orange County Superior Court jury awarded the judgment to Joey Crumes, who at the time he was treated in 2004 was working as a health technician at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Five days after Crumes went to a Mission Viejo hospital emergency room with a severe headache, he suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed him on the left side of his body, confining him to a wheelchair and bed.

The lawsuit was filed against radiologist Charles Aucreman and emergency room physician Andrew Lawson.

The jury found that both were negligent but that Lawson bore the responsibility for Crumes' injuries, said his attorney, Daniel Spradlin.

Spradlin said that on Sept. 12, 2004, Crumes went to the emergency room at Mission Hospital.

Besides complaining of the severe headache, he told doctors that in 1993 he was operated on for cancer in the right sinus area. During that operation, doctors removed a tumor, as well as his right eye and a portion of his sinus cavity.

Spradlin said Lawson ordered a CT scan, but Crumes ultimately was sent home with a painkiller and orders to seek further treatment if his condition worsened.

Five days later, Crumes lapsed into a coma, and doctors discovered an infection that had spread to his brain.

In the suit against the two doctors, Spradlin argued that had Crumes been treated properly when he went to the emergency room, he would not have suffered the stroke and become debilitated.

"A treating physician [of the coma] said Joey was sent home with a time bomb in his head," Spradlin said.

Crumes spent 11 months in the hospital after the stroke.

Attorneys for the two doctors could not be reached for comment.

michael.kennedy@latimes.com

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