Civil trial may be milestone
A civil trial that centered on a patient’s complaint about a rabies treatment administered at War Memorial Hospital in 2006 might be the longest jury trial in Morgan County history, according to Circuit Court staff.
The trial began on February 13, and a six-person Morgan County jury returned their verdict on March 15.
Jurors told Judge Thomas Steptoe they were not convinced that Drs. DaSilva and Cook deviated from standards of emergency medical care in administering a rabies vaccine to Cherie Lawyer in December 2006.
Lawyer had gone to the emergency room after family members were exposed to a raccoon that might have been rabid.
At the time of the incident, the hospital was owned by Morgan County and run by Valley Health.
Cherie and Tony Lawyer brought the suit against the doctors and War Memorial Hospital in April 2009.
The couple was seeking payment of past and future medical bills associated with illnesses suffered by Cherie Lawyer after she received the rabies treatments. The Lawyers were also seeking $1.4 million in compensation.
Attorneys for the Lawyers argued that the treatment caused their client’s partial vision loss and other extensive ailments.
They also argued that the physicians had forced Cherie Lawyer’s to consent to the treatment. Jurors found no evidence of that charge.
Circuit Clerk Kim Jackson told county officials recently that she exhausted the remainder of her yearly budget for jury supplies during the lengthy trial.
Jackson could not provide an estimate on how much the trial had cost her office in jury supplies, compensation and office supplies.
Helen Morris, Deputy in the Circuit Clerk’s office, was in the courtroom for the entire landmark trial.
“We’ve never even had a murder trial that lasted that long,” said Morris.