Southport woman wins $9.2M malpractice award against Bridgeport Hospital

A Southport woman who walked into Bridgeport Hospital with a urinary tract infection and was discharged 75 days later in a hospital bed, was awarded $9.2 million by a jury Friday.

The Bridgeport Superior Court jury of four men and two women deliberated about an hour and a half before finding the hospital's malpractice resulted in 72-year-old Barbara Lathan contracting MRSA, a bacterial infection resistant to most antibiotics.

"She went into the hospital a healthy 65-year-old and came out wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life," her lawyer, Antonio Ponvert III, said later. "This award will pay for the medical care she will need for the rest of her life and is an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering this hospital caused her."

"We all came to a fair and equitable verdict, and believe justice was served," juror Jack Middleton, of Bridgeport, said as he and the other jurors left the courthouse.

Moments after the verdict was announced the hospital's lawyer, Bruce Gilpatrick, asked Judge Theodore Tyma to throw it out. But the judge declined, asking that written post-trial motions be filed later.

Hospital officials did not immediately comment on the verdict.

During the two and a half week trial, Ponvert and his partner, Kathleen Nastri, presented testimony and evidence that was largely uncontested by the hospital's lawyers.

On Oct. 3, 2007, Lathan was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a urinary tract infection, but while there she was overdosed six times with a blood thinner causing her to bleed into her abdomen, Ponvert said. He said she developed a blot clot in her abdomen and coded. Revived, she underwent emergency surgery.

While Lathan was recovering from the surgery, the lawyer said, she developed MRSA and an orange-sized abscess on her neck requiring more surgery and the eventual removal of part of her shoulder bone.

Five years later, Ponvert said Lathan's incision opened, causing her organs to bulge into her skin and leaving her unable to move by herself.

"Amazing through all this she has remained as optimistic a person as I have ever met," he said.