U.S. Supreme Court denies Camden-Clark petition

CHARLESTON – The United State Supreme Court on Monday denied Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital's petition in a high-profile case.

The Court denied the hospital's Petition for a writ of certiorari Monday, apparently ending Camden-Clark's appeals in the case of Ray Boggs v. Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital Corporation.

Camden-Clark's appeal had to do with the constitutionality of the right to appeal punitive damages handed out at the Circuit Court level. In West Virginia, punitive damages can be accessed against a litigant without any automatic right to appeal or review of such damages.

In March 2006, a Wood County jury found Camden-Clark liable for wrongful death, fraudulent concealment and punitive damages for causing the death of 51-year old Hilda Boggs, a Mineral Wells schoolteacher and then attempting to cover it up.

The jury's verdict of $6,545,000 was upheld by Wood County Chief Circuit Judge Robert Waters after Camden-Clark moved to set it aside. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia denied Camden-Clark's Petitions for appeal from the verdict last fall, prompting the hospital's appeal to U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Boggs was represented on appeal by Christopher Regan and Geoffrey Brown of Bordas & Bordas in Wheeling and Christopher Rinehart of Rinehart Legal Services, Columbus, Ohio.

Thomas Goodwin and Johnny Knisley of Goodwin and Goodwin in Charleston represented Camden-Clark in the U.S. Supreme Court.

After the 2006 trial, Waters issued a $1,359,241.02 sanction against Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital Corporation for egregious litigation misconduct, concealment of documents from the court, false testimony and false statements to the court, as well as a variety of misdeeds by the hospital's attorney, Richard Hayhurst.

Regan said the sanction is believed to be one of the largest ever levied in West Virginia. The state Supreme Court also declined to reverse the award of sanctions when Camden-Clark appealed to it early this year.

Hilda Boggs died when an overdose of anesthesia stopped her heart on the operating table. The stoppage went undetected for several minutes because the audible heartbeat alarms had been turned off by hospital personnel. It was later learned that turning off the alarms was a routine practice at Camden-Clark.

The verdict included $3 million in punitive damages against Camden-Clark for its intentional wrongdoing.

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