Paralyzed Woman in Colorado Awarded $14.9 Million in Malpractice Case


An Epidural steroid injection that attorneys say was clearly label not for epidural use was given to their client Robbin Smith.

The injection according to her attorneys paralyzed Robbin Smith permanently from the waist down.

The second largest medical negligence verdict in Colorado history was awarded to Robbin and Ed Smith in an amount of $14.9 million. The couple from Castle Rock  was awarded by a Douglas County jury against their suit with The Surgery Center at Lone Tree.

The ambulatory Surgery Center at Lone Tree is surgical care that does same day procedures.

Bruce Braley and Brian Aleinikoff of the firm Leventhal & Puga PC in Denver, are the Smith’s attorney’s and they state Robbin Smith was 57 years old in 2013, when she was given the injection of the Kenalog Steroid while admitted under the care of The Surgery Center.

Robin Smith became paralyzed from the waist down shortly after receiving the injection. The injection caused a spinal cord infarction which obstructs blood supply to an organ or area of tissue causing the tissue to die.

The manufacturer of Kenalog, Bristol- Myers Squibb, requested and received permission from the FDA to change the label to read as follows: “Not for Epidural Use.” According to Smith’s attorneys the label change was done two years before Robin Smith getting the injection.

Smiths attorneys during the trial showed the jury examples of the warning printed on the labels, bottles and packages.

The attorney’s said the Kenalog warning was thorough and it clearly explains the neurologic warning and the specific reaction that paralyzed Robbin Smith. “Spinal cord infarction, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cortical blindness and stroke (including brainstem), have been reported after epidural administration of corticosteroids.”

Their attorneys said the Smiths had not been made aware of the label changes that were made before Robbin’s injections.

The Surgery Center at Lone Tree attorney unfortunately could not be reached for a comment on Thursday.

Robin Smith will now require full time assistance, so Ed smith retired and will become the fulltime caregiver. Her injuries are permanent and for the rest of her life will need care.

“We hope this is a wake-up call for ambulatory surgery centers and the people who run them,” said Ed Smith. “It’s one thing to say that patient safety is your first priority; it’s another thing to actually make it your top priority. It’s one thing to say that patients have a right to participate in their healthcare decisions; it’s another thing to actually give patients the information they need to be fully informed of what they’re getting into. Both Robbin and I hope this never happens to another family in Colorado or anywhere else.”

In 2015 Leventhal & Puga took the case which last month took place in Douglas County District Court.

“This verdict won’t restore Robbin’s ability to walk,” said  Bruce Braley an attorney from Leventhal & Puga. “But it will give Robbin and Ed the chance to make the most of the life they now have.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2015 was involved in a malpractice with lead attorneys Leventhal & Puga. Their main practice is personal injury and medical malpractice and that case eventually awarded the largest medical malpractice amount of $17.8 million.


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