Jury awards Springfield woman $28 million in malpractice lawsuit

Published: Mar. 8, 2017 at 4:55 PM CST
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A Greene County jury this week awarded nearly $29 million to a woman who sued Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities for malpractice in 2015. Attorneys for Emilee Williams convinced a jury that her doctor, Dr. Elene Pilapil, misdiagnosed her condition starting in 2012.

Williams, 24, of Springfield, said in her lawsuit that she went to Pilapil because of fatigue, tremors, shaky feeling, balance issues, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, crying spells and panic attacks. Her family said Pilapil told her she suffered from anxiety and refused to send her for more tests. Eight months later, after Williams and her mother pleaded for more tests, an MRI of her brain found she has Wilson’s disease, which occurs when too much copper accumulates in someone’s vital organs, such as the liver and brain.

If Wilson’s disease is diagnosed early, treatment can stave off its progression, which eventually robs a person of nearly all motor skills. People are born with it but it may not become severe for years.

Williams was a college student and athlete at the time of the diagnosis. Her lawyers argued, as a result of the delay in treatment and diagnosis, she now suffers from severe brain damage and must be fed through a tube.

The nine-day trial ended with a verdict on March 3. Eleven of the 12 jurors who deliberated signed the verdict. The jury found in favor of Williams and ordered Mercy Clinic Springfield to pay $28,911,000:

-- $511,000 for past economic damages, including past medical damages;

-- $1 million for past non-economic damages;

-- $21 million for future medical damages;

-- $3.2 million for future economic damages excluding future medical damages; and

-- $3.2 million for future non-economic damages.

Mercy Hospital issued a statement about the trial: "Emilee remains in our prayers as she battles this hereditary disease. Mercy would like to thank the jurors for their time spent hearing testimony and considering the evidence. We continue to believe the care we provided was appropriate and will consider our legal options.”