Law Offices of Robert Vaage Announce $4.9 Million Arbitration Award in Brain Injury Case

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Law Offices of Robert Vaage announced today that a $4.9 million arbitration award has been granted to a San Diego man who suffered a permanent brain injury while he was a patient at Kaiser Zion hospital in 2011.

On May 12, 2011, 17-year-old Raymond Palmer was attacked and stabbed multiple times while he was at a trolley stop.  He was taken to UCSD Medical Center, where he was stabilized and underwent surgery for the treatment of his injuries.  While at UCSD, he was placed on a respirator due to breathing difficulties and sedated.  When attempts were made to wean him off sedation, he became agitated, so wrist restraints were employed to prevent him from removing the breathing tube.

Once he became stable, Palmer was transferred to Kaiser Zion on May 20, 2011 where he was kept sedated and restrained.  He developed a persistent fever, and a Kaiser Zion physician changed the sedation medication.  Palmer continued to experience agitation the evening of May 20 and morning of May 21, 2011; the alarm on his ventilator sounded mid-morning on May 21 because his breathing tube had a hole in it and was not properly placed, resulting in a Code Blue.  Palmer had no pulse or blood pressure for approximately 13 minutes, and was left with permanent brain damage as a result.

In the case -- Raymond Palmer, an incompetent adult, by and through his Conservator, Andrea Palmer v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Inc.; Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and Kaiser Health Plan, Inc. – the plaintiff was represented by Robert F. Vaage of the Law Offices of Robert Vaage.  The suit alleged that the events leading up to the disconnected breathing tube were predictable and preventable, that the extubation and subsequent cardiopulmonary arrest were poorly handled, and that Kaiser's physicians and nurses were negligent in their care and treatment of Palmer, which resulted in his permanent brain injury.

The case began arbitration on June 18, 2013, and on August 26, 2013, the Arbitrator issued his award in Palmer's favor for non-economic damages of $250,000, loss of earning capacity (present value) of $587,907, future life care costs (present value) of $3,524,688, and future care at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation of $569,932 and rent of $18,000 for a total award of $4,950,527

"We were able to show to the arbitrator's satisfaction that Ray Palmer suffered an anoxic brain injury, one he did not have as a result of the initial altercation which landed him at UCSD and ultimately, at Kaiser," said Vaage.  "Ray is now 19 years old and can only read at a second-grade level.  He is learning to walk with a walker, requires assistance with his activities of daily living, and needs round-the-clock supervision and care to keep him safe.  He will never be able to hold a job, and will never live independently.  This award is a just and equitable finding that will allow Ray's family to see that he gets the care he needs and deserves."

Non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 in medical negligence cases under current California law.  According to Vaage, who has never lost a Kaiser arbitration, "This cap on damages was established in 1975, when the cost of gas was $0.57 per gallon, minimum wage was $2.10, and the average car cost around $5,000.  The current buying power of $250,000 is around $57,500."  A grassroots initiative to change this law is underway.  See

The San Diego personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage have provided expert legal representation throughout California to hundreds of people.   The firm's areas of practice include personal injury, product liability, wrongful death, elder abuse, medical malpractice, employment discrimination and professional malpractice (legal malpractice).  For more information, visit

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