Kanawha County jury renders $17 million verdict after surgery that left man paralyzed

A Kanawha County jury awarded $17 million in a medical malpractice case that left a man unable to use his legs and lower body after surgery.

Following an eight-day trial in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Tera Salango, the jury on March 24 found that a neurologist was negligent and fully responsible for what happened to Pocahontas County resident Michael Rodgers.

Originally, in 2017, Rodgers was injured in a motorcycle accident and transported to Charleston Area Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center.

A lawsuit filed in 2019 contended that initially Rodgers showed no neurological damage, that he had sensation and could move all of his extremities. The lawsuit stated that neurologist John Orphanos at first prescribed a treatment requiring Rodgers to wear a back brace for six to eight weeks.

Later, though, Orphanos changed the treatment and recommended surgery. The lawsuit alleged the doctor did not order testing to determine any existing or potential problems with the spinal cord or soft tissue.

Without that information, the lawsuit contended, the doctor did not know Rodgers already had issues including cord compression, spinal abnormality and a spinal cord injury. So, the lawsuit alleged, the doctor went into surgery without a plan to include decompression of the spinal column or another precaution called neurophysiological intraoperative monitoring.

After that surgery, the lawsuit stated, Rodgers suffered complete loss of motor function and sensation of his lower extremities.

Following a second surgery, Rodgers still experienced persistent loss of motor function and sensation to the lower extremities, the lawsuit stated. He has been unable to use his lower body ever since.

“Due to numerous deviations from the standard of care, those two surgeries performed by Dr. Orphanos left Mr. Rodgers a permanent paraplegic,” the lawsuit alleged.



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