A Montgomery County Circuit Court jury awarded $1 million yesterday to the mother of a youth who suffered permanent brain damage and paralysis two years ago while a patient at Suburban Hospital after being injured in a school soccer game.
According to testimony, the youth developed a blood clot at the stem of his brain after the hospital staff had failed to monitor his condition adequately and refused to call his personal physician.
The jury took two hours and 41 minutes to reach its verdict in favor of Patricia Reidmiller, who had filed the negligence suit against the Bethesda hospital on behalf of her son, Joseph Levi, 16. The jury also awarded Mrs. Riedmiller $73,191 to cover her son's medical expenses.
An attorney for the hospital said no decision had been made whether to appeal the award, which by law is taxfree. In their closing statements, hospital attorneys suggested that a $200,000 award would be proper.
George W. Shadoan, Mrs. Reidmiller's attorney, had told the jury that "a significant portion of Joey's brain is dead" and Joey will never have a normal life."
The youth testified last week after the jury was shown color movies of him playing soccer for Julius West Junior High School in Rockville.
It took Levi, who uses a cane, five minutes to walk the 50 feet to the witness stand, according to an observer. Testifying, his speech was slurred. He described his classes at the junior high, where he is still enrolled in a regular program. The youth was not cross-examined by the hospital's attorneys.
Levi was sent into a soccer game against Parkland Junior High on Oct. 23, 1975, to make a last-minute corner kick, when for no apparent reason, a member of the Parkland team hit him in the head.
Levi initally appeared to be all right, but later complained of a nose bleed, headaches and started vomiting.
At Suburban Hospital, according to evidence at the trial, he was diagnosed as having a "mild concussion" and kept overnight for obervation.
After being admitted to the hospital, according to testimony, Levi's vital signs were infrequently monitored and haphazardly recorded. According to other evidence introduced at the trial, the nursing staff refused to call the youth's personal physician as his mother repeatedly requested.
According of medical testimony, a blood clot lodged at the stem of Levi's brain, causing massive paralysis to the entire right side of his body.
Levi went into a coma on the night of Oct. 23 and was unconscious for 60 days, according to testimony.
Dr. F. Donald Cooney, Levi's personal physicial, told the jury that if he had been called in time, surgery could have prevented the paralysis.
Levi's condition was discovered only after his mother ran screaming into a hospital corridor saying her son had stopped breathing, according to testimony.
In his closing argument to the jury's Shadoan said surgery was then delayed for nearly twoo hours because technicians could not properly fit film into an X-ray camera.