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The state is paying a 13-year-old Springville girl and her family $2 million — to be doled out over the course of the child’s life — after her parents accused the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics of subjecting their daughter to “an inadvertent nutrition overdose” while treating her for cancer in 2011.
That $2 million is a fraction of the $10 million Tom Anderson and Meghan McClaskey sought when they filed a claim in 2017 alleging a “nutrition overdose” while their 2-year-old daughter in 2011 was being treated at UIHC for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, resulting in an ongoing “seizure disorder.”
UIHC “states that the settlement is reasonable based on potential risk,” according to a May 31 settlement the State Appeal Board approved this month. “Payment is for child’s pain and suffering as well as future care costs related to the seizure disorder and related developmental delays.”
The agreement is among about $8 million the state paid to settle torts in the 2022 budget year that ended Thursday, according to the State Appeal Board.
In lawsuit-related settlements and judgments for fiscal 2022, Iowa paid a total $22.3 million — including $6.1 million involving Board of Regents institutions, accounting for about 27 percent.
Additionally, some UIHC settlements over the course of the year — or portions of them — were covered by UI Physicians, a UI Carver College of Medicine-based medical and surgical clinical practice comprised of more than 1,000 physicians.
UI Physicians since 2004 has owned Iowa Medical Mutual Insurance Co., established to provide medical malpractice coverage on a claims-made basis to UI physicians. In the 2020 budget year, for example, claims and possible liabilities added up to $330.9 million — an increase from $325 million in 2019 and $266.7 million in 2018, according to UI financial reports.
Although UI Physicians was supposed to cover 15 percent of the Springville teen’s settlement, with 85 percent coming out of the state’s general fund, Iowa’s attorney general reported UI Physicians had reached a policy-imposed limit for the year.
“So the full amount will be paid by the general fund.”
Lung cancer death
The Appeal Board this month also approved a $1 million settlement with a DeWitt family after Gerald Weiss died at age 74 in May 2018 of stage IV lung cancer that went undiagnosed or treated for at least a year, according to a lawsuit the family filed in April 2021.
The family accused UIHC physicians of spotting nodules on Weiss’ lungs in 2016 and then observing an “increasing cystic lesion” in February 2017 — prompting a radiologist to report it as “concerning” and recommend further evaluation.
Although Weiss was seen in clinic at that time, UIHC physicians didn’t reference his chest scan or order any further evaluation, according to the lawsuit. The following year, during an annual chest X-ray, radiology found “significant” progression of a previously seen lesion — which was “highly concerning for lung cancer.”
One month later he was diagnosed with state IV cancer, and two months later he died.
Although UI Physicians were to pay 100 percent of the $1 million settlement, the policy cap put the entire amount to the state’s general fund.
Notable on the year
The $6.1 million in Board of Regents-related lawsuit settlements and judgments for the 2022 budget year included several high-profile payouts, including nearly $400,000 paid to six female UI athletes who sued former UI President Bruce Harreld and UI Athletic Director Gary Barta for violating Title IX by cutting women’s swimming and diving in 2020.
In addition to the money, a settlement compelled UI to launch a first women’s wrestling team among NCAA Division I Power Five conference schools; reinstate women’s swimming and diving for at least seven years; cap its women’s rowing roster to 75; and hire a Title IX monitor.
The state also over the year had to pay nearly $2 million to two UI faith-based student organizations who a judge found UI discriminated against by deregistering them.
And UI in May agreed to pay $75,000 to a New York-based choreographer after in November 2016 — while working as choreographer for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago’s production of The Nutcracker — he fell into the orchestra pit inside UI’s Hancher Auditorium.
Christopher Wheeldon and his husband sued the state in May 2019 for failing to “exercise reasonable care” by not providing adequate lighting of the stage when he was examining it before the show and not providing netting over the pit.
“As a result of his fall, Plaintiff Christopher Wheeldon sustained significant and ongoing injuries,” according to the lawsuit.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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