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Young Paraplegic Woman Wins Legal Malpractice Lawsuit

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Christine Eke4 years ago

In Goochland County, 22-year-old Sarah E. Gilbert won a lawsuit against a Washington D.C. law firm for legal malpractice.Gilbert had sought the services of the D.C. firm about 9 years ago for a medical malpractice claim she had against a hospital who caused permanent injury to her after performing surgery for her scoliosis. This lawsuit stemmed from the firm’s mishandling of the previous lawsuit against the hospital.

Details of the Legal Malpractice Case

  • Surgery was performed on Gilbert back in 2004 when she was 13 years old to address the scoliosis in her spine.
  • Something went wrong with the surgery, and Gilbert was paralyzed from the chest down.
  • Gilbert and her parents went to a D.C. law firm in December of 2004 with a medical malpractice claim; the statute of limitations, the amount of time a grieved party has to file a lawsuit, was to end on July 28, 2006.
  • Four days before the July deadline, the law firm finally filed the complaint with the circuit court, but incorrectly formatted the complaint; the court dismissed the complaint on those grounds.
  • It was not until October 2006 when the law firm filed the complaint in the correct format, but unfortunately the statute of limitations had run out, and the Gilberts no longer had a claim against the hospital.
  • Gilbert’s only remedy was against the law firm, whom she sued under a legal malpractice claim for negligent acts and omissions for failing to timely file her medical complaint.
  • The jury awarded her $4 million in its verdict.

The Impact of Gilbert's Paralysis

  • Gilbert was once an avid soccer player as a child.
  • She used to wear back braces to treat her scoliosis, and the surgery was a way for her to not have to rely on them anymore.
  • Gilbert is now bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life; her dreams of playing professional soccer are gone.
  • Gilbert went to Virginia Tech to study chemical engineering with hopes to pursue neurological science, focusing on the spinal cord.
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