Anesthesiologist's errors said to result in paralysis and brain damage for patient. $28.7M. Los Angeles County.


Man with fish bone in throat suffers brain damage during emergency surgery.

The Case

  • Case Name: Antonio Leon v. Georgia Bode M.D., et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles County Superior Court / 19ST-CV-01640
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 09, 2024
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, January 22, 2019
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Daniel Murphy
  • Plaintiffs:
    Antonio Leon
  • Defendants:
    Georgia Bode, M.D.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $28,724,350.29
  • Economic Damages:

    Past lost earnings: $150,000 

    Future lost earnings: $457,000 

    Past medical costs: $567,350.29

    Future medical costs: $8,300,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $10,000,000

    Future: $9,250,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 2 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 liability; 11-1 causation; 12-0 on all special damages and past general damages; 9-3 on future general damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Stalwart Law Group by Sean P. O'Neill, West Hollywood.

    Law Office of Marshall Silberberg by William Collins, Irvine.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Reback, McAndrews, Blessy LLP by Thomas F. McAndrews, Manhattan Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    John Brock-Utne, M.D., anesthesiology.

    Greg Vigna, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Jonathan Benumof, M.D., anesthesiology.

    Edward O’Connor, M.D., neurology.

    Sarah Larsen, R.N., physical medicine and rehabilitation.

    Scott Kush, J.D. M.D. M.S. MPH, life expectancy.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Timothy Lanning, M.A., economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Weiner, MBA, economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    The 50-year-old plaintiff sought medical attention at Los Angeles Community Hospital's emergency department on April 24, 2018, after swallowing a fish bone.

    While undergoing general anesthesia, there were difficulties intubating plaintiff.  This led to a sequence of events resulting in the patient suffering an anoxic brain injury from a lack of oxygen.

    Plaintiff was placed into a medically induced coma for several weeks and had multiple seizures and prophylactic brain cooling. Plaintiff came out of the coma with permanent paralysis and irreversible brain damage. Six years later, plaintiff remains bedbound and dependent on full-time nursing care.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That despite recognizing the risks of her inability to intubate and oxygenate plaintiff, defendant anesthesiologist failed to use basic interventions to protect plaintiff, leading to his anoxic brain injury from a lack of oxygen.

    That defendant's actions involved grave errors that endangered the plaintiff's safety and well-being. Firstly, she deviated from the agreed-upon MAC Anesthesia, opting for General Anesthesia despite knowing it increased the risk to plaintiff.

    Secondly, her failure to possess the necessary reversal drug (Suggamadex) for the paralytic she administered, a drug with intermediate-lasting paralytic effects, underscored a critical lapse in preparation. Additionally, she negligently permitted excessive intubation attempts, far beyond what is considered safe practice.

    After repeated unsuccessful attempts, defendant failed to reposition the plaintiff, or attempt other drugs, or devices to assist in getting plaintiff oxygen. Most egregiously, instead of stopping the procedure to ensure proper oxygenation and awaken the plaintiff when he regained spontaneous breathing, she opted to paralyze him again, exacerbating the oxygen deprivation he suffered, which required an emergency tracheostomy.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant Dr. Bode’s legal team argued that the anesthesiologist requested the patient be woken up after two failed attempts at intubation, but the operating surgeon refused and took over intubation attempts; that at no time during defendant's intubation attempts did the patient's oxygen saturation fall below 90%; and that it was not until the surgeon's third intubation attempt that the oxygen saturation fell below 90%, which is when the damage occurred. 

    Defendant argued that she followed the ASA recommendations and that once the surgeon took over, she had to try to maintain the airway.

    The defense team made no settlement offer to plaintiff.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Brain injury, permanent paralysis.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $567,350.29
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $8,300,000.00
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $150,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $457,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff sent a 998 offer for $1,000,000 in 2020. Defense rejected the 998 offer, filed a motion for summary judgment, and never offered any money to settle.