West Virginia Record

Friday, October 18, 2019

Man blames Cleveland Clinic doctors for paralysis

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 24, 2010

CHARLESTON – During a revision to a left knee replacement, doctors at Cleveland Clinic injured a Kanawha County man's sciatic nerve, causing him to endure paralysis in the lower portion of his left leg, according to recently filed court documents.

Robert R. Harper filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court against Dr. Bruce F. Haupt, Mountain Pride Orthopedics and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The case has since been removed to U.S. District Court.

Pursuant to an order from Judge James O. Holliday, Haupt and Mountain Pride have been removed as defendants from the case.

In his original complaint, Harper claims Haupt removed his left knee cap and performed a total knee replacement on Dec. 21, 2007.

Following the surgery, Harper developed an infection in his left knee, according to the complaint. Doctors at Thomas Memorial Hospital treated Harper's infected knee, but still Harper continued to experience pain, the suit states.

On Feb. 25, 2009, Harper visited The Cleveland Clinic Foundation where he underwent a revision to his left knee replacement, the complaint says.

During the surgery, doctors injured Harper's sciatic nerve – a nerve that runs from a person's back to his lower limb, Harper claims. As a result, Harper has suffered from paralysis to his left lower extremity, according to the complaint.

After the paralysis, Harper has struggled to perform normal work, such as household chores and mowing the yard, his response to questions state. In addition, he has suffered from other medical problems as a result of his paralysis, the response says.

"During the last week, Plaintiff suffered a fracture to his left ankle after falling in his home kitchen, when his left knee buckled," the response states. "Due to the lack of feeling in his left leg, Plaintiff went several days before seeking medical attention for his ankle and only did so because of the severe bruising of his ankle."

In his two-count complaint, Harper seeks damages adequate to compensate him for his injuries, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Defendants Haupt and Mountain Pride Orthopedics denied responsibility for Harper's injuries.

"The Plaintiff's injuries and damages, if any, were the proximate result of natural disease processes, accidental injuries and/or illnesses and not the negligence of these defendants, their agents, servants and/or employees," the suit states.

In their answer to Harper's complaint, Haupt and Mountain Pride Orthopedics asked the court to dismiss them from his complaint. Their request was granted.

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation denies that its doctors injured Harper's sciatic nerve and places the blame for his injuries on institutions other than itself.

It also asked the court to dismiss it from the case, but the court refused to do so.

Since then, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation removed the complaint to U.S. District Court. Because the Ohio-based hospital is the only remaining defendant left, complete diversity of citizenship exists between it and Harper. In addition, Harper seeks more than $75,000, proven by the fact that he seeks to recover the $437,911.47 in medical costs he incurred, plus compensatory damages.

Brent K. Kesner and Daniel W. Greear of Kesner, Kesner and Bramble in Charleston will be representing Harper.

Thomas J. Hurney Jr. and Rodney W. Stieger of Jackson Kelly in Charleston will be representing The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:10-cv-1273

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