Springhill Hospitals, Inc. v. WestAnnotate this Case
This appeal stemmed from a medical-malpractice wrongful-death action filed by Patricia West ("Mrs. West"), the personal representative of the estate of her husband, John West, Jr. ("Mr. West"), against Springhill Hospitals, Inc., d/b/a Springhill Memorial Hospital ("SMH"). In 2014, then 59-year-old Mr. West accidentally sliced most of the tip of his left thumb off when he was using a table saw in his shop. He went to the emergency room, at which he had surgery to suture the wound from the saw cut. Mr. West was given two pain medications for postsurgical care: Dilaudid, the brand name for hydromorphone, and Percocet, the brand name for the opioid oxycodone. Mr. West was admitted to the hospital following surgery for observation. He was given the prescribed pain medications while in the hospital. The hospital admitted prescribed doses of Dilaudid were administered to Mr. West, but Percoset was not. Mr. West was found unresponsive after the doses of Dilaudid, and no drugs to counteract opioid overdoses were given. Mrs. West's lawsuit alleged negligence against the hospital for failing to assess monitor her husband while in the hospital. A jury returned a verdict against SMH and awarded $35 million in punitive damages. The trial court thereafter entered judgment on the jury's verdict finding SMH liable. After a hearing concerning a remittitur of the punitive-damages award, the trial court reduced the amount of the award to $10 million. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed both the judgment entered on the jury's verdict finding SMH liable and the trial court's order reducing the punitive-damages award.