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Damages Paperback – June 1, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On April 1, 1984, Donna Sabia went into labor expecting twins. But one of the babies arrived stillborn, while the other--Anthony Jr.--was barely alive, with an Apgar score (rating newborn vitality on a scale of 0 to 10) of 1. In the following years, he suffered from spastic quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, and cortical blindness, and would require lifelong medical attention costing millions of dollars just to survive. The Sabias' lawyers faulted Donna's maternity clinic and the delivering physician for her son's condition, initiating a 7-year lawsuit on the claim that a simple $40 ultrasound could have eliminated incalculable suffering and catastrophic expense.

Damages is a careful analysis of how the fields of law and medicine intersect in the realm of medical malpractice, where lawyers sue not only to redress suffering but to make sure that doctors and hospitals are more vigilant in the future, if only to avoid being sued again. Werth leads readers carefully through the litigation, from the deposing of expert witnesses, through the preparation for trial, to the posturing of settlement negotiations. Always firmly aware that lawyers sue doctors on behalf of human beings, however, he reveals the emotional and psychological consequences of a civil justice system that is often neither civil nor just. Werth explains esoteric legal and medical procedures in understandable terms that laypeople will not find condescending, while describing the human side of the Sabias' case without patronizing attorneys and physicians. Ultimately, Damages is the chronicle of a devoted family braving a medical malpractice industry in which the decision-making process on both sides is governed by a cost-benefit analysis that leads, perhaps inevitably, to the commodification of human life. "Even after a big verdict," Werth quotes one malpractice lawyer, "I'm suffering because all I could get my clients, who've been brutalized by the most appalling malpractice, was money." --Tim Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Werth (The Billion Dollar Molecule, LJ 2/1/94) integrates the story of one family's travails after the birth of a profoundly disabled son with an unbiased view of medical and legal issues. Werth reviewed files and interviewed most of the people involved in the medical malpractice case brought by the parents of Tony John Sabio. This meticulous, even-handed approach results in a book that is both an engrossing look at the experiences of one family and a serious glimpse into the American medical malpractice industry. It also touches on the serious question of whether, given the competing interests involved, a medical malpractice suit can be an effective tool to discover the truth or achieve justice. This is the book that Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action (LJ 9/15/95) aspired to be but was not because Harr did not put that particular lawsuit into the larger context. Recommended for any library where medical and/or legal true stories are in demand.?Suzanne Pierce Dyer, Alameda Cty. Law Lib., Oakland, Cal.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425168638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425168639
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,621,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I spend a great deal of time as a defense lawyer explaining how the system works-- to the associates in my office, to clients, to lawyers from outside the US. "Damages" is going to find its way into a lot of these discussions, and everyone who works for me is going to read it. I am also going to send a copy to my mom.
Barry Wirth's book is impressive for the way it gets the law stuff (and the medicine too, I think) mostly dead on, but beyond that, this is also a great read, with interesting, well drawn characters that one ends up caring about.
In many ways, "Damages" is a better book than "A Civil Action", which it resembles. The legal tactics are explained, rather than merely used to illustrate the flamboyance of the attorneys. More importantly, the case itself, a so-called "bad baby" case concerning the catastrophic injuries sustained as a result of claimed medical malpractice, is something anyone who reads a daily newsp! aper will be able to relate to. The book gives the best picture I have ever seen of how patients become clients, how prospective clients are screened by law firms, how discovery strategies are developed, how cases are evaluated (by both sides) and how settlements are negotiated. I could teach a course around this, and, in fact, I just might.
I recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered how the damage awards they read about in news reports were arrived at, or thought about what the human consequences of a serious injury might be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for anyone involved in the litigation process or anyone involved in the health care field.
I am a structured settlement consultant who works with personal injury attorneys and some insurance companies. This is the best book I have ever seen about the process.
I have purchased over 200 copies of the book to give to trial attorneys, claims professionals and other structured settlement professionals. All love the book. It reads like a novel.
Don McNay...
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Format: Paperback
"Damages" by Barry Werth is a compelling and incisive study of the anatomy of a medical malpractice case, as seen from all sides. A real page turner. Most impressive is the exhaustive and comprehensive work done by the plaintiff's legal firm, and the in depth and understandable explanations by the author of the medical facts, the legal strategies, the context of the times, the world of medical experts, the role of insurance companies, and the lives of those injured. Beautifully written. "An education" is the only phrase that keeps coming to my mind after completing this gem of a book. Read it ! You'll learn a lot and it will help you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a thoughtfully-written, highly detailed account of the legal maneuvering that goes on for years, following a disastrous
outcome in a hospital's delivery room. The author spent time with the parties involved on both sides of the lawsuit.
The reader gets to know the various lawyers as people who had lives prior to going into law.

Whether a person works in medicine or not, "Damages" illustrates how a clinician's culpability is not always the most important
factor in determining who the plaintiff's lawyers will "go after." Many strategic considerations come into play. We get a behind the scenes look at the experts hired to testify and what the limits of their usefulness are.

I highly recommend this book.
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By Janet I. on February 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book because it took place close to my hometown of Stamford, CT. I just... WOW. I feel terrible that things like this happen, and I am glad this book is out there to give people more knowledge. I can't get over this book.
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Format: Paperback
I am a legal assistant who has worked on "both sides of the bench" on medical malpractice cases. I do not and never would claim to have the answers to the health care and legal problems of this country. It should be remembered though that not every bad/sad outcome is caused by fault - unexpected does not mean someone is at fault.

Dr. Humes was strong-armed into settling her portion of the case. There was no strong proof of causation from her care. The situation had gone south before she became involved in the delivery. After the plaintiffs received the money from her insurance company, they altered their theory of causation to make a case against the hospital (the "deep pockets"), essentially cancelling a lot of the allegations against Dr. Humes. Causation by the hospital was very weak, as was the alleged failure to meet the standard of care, and most likely, even if all alleged failures hadn't happened, the outcome would have been the same - one baby who died and one who was very compromised. Plaintiffs relied upon a very specific time line scenerio that neither side wanted to allow a jury to consider.

This was truly an incredibly sad situation, however, it was also a situation where the medicine did not resolve the matter. Fear of a jury decided the outcome.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating story of real life in medicine and law, well told. However, it will leave you believing that the legal system is an terrible way to resolve questions about the quality of medical care. It is so vividly and accurately told that it also left me wondering whether the doctors and lawyers on either side of this heartbreaking conflict really cared what the truth was.
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