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Bowdoinham man awarded $5M in medical malpractice, negligence suit

The jury said plaintiff Joshua Desjardins was also negligent, which reduced the amount of the award from approximately $7 million to $5 million.
Credit: NCM

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A jury has awarded $5 million in damages to a Bowdoinham man who sued Mid Coast Hospital and BlueWater Emergency Partners, LLC, which provides contracted medical staff to the hospital's emergency department and walk-in clinic.

Joshua Desjardins, now 32, went to the walk-in clinic in Brunswick on Dec. 26, 2018, and was diagnosed with the flu. His attorney, Travis Brennan of Berman & Simmons, said he was examined by a physician assistant employed by BlueWater and contracted to work at the clinic. Desjardins was sent home with instructions to return in 10 days if his symptoms did not improve.

Three days later, he went to the emergency department at Mid Coast Hospital after his symptoms worsened, his attorneys claimed. A chest X-ray indicated pneumonia, and he was found to have sepsis and acute respiratory failure.

Desjardins required intubation and was taken by LifeFlight of Maine to Maine Medical Center. Two days later, he was placed on life support and required a tracheotomy.

He remained at Maine Medical Center until Feb. 4, 2019.

Desjardins suffered septic shock, strokes, and pneumothoraxes and remained at Maine Medical Center until Feb. 4, 2019, according to court documents.

Brennan claimed breach of duty of care, including failure to adequately work up and diagnose Desjardins, failure to order a chest X-ray, failure to obtain laboratory work, failure to transfer Desjardins to an emergency department, and failure to warn him about the seriousness of his medical condition. 

The jury initially awarded Desjardins more than $7 million in damages including medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and permanent impairment. However, the jury also found Desjardins was negligent and reduced the award to approximately $5 million, according to court documents.

Brennan said the award was reduced after "aggressive attempts by BlueWater and Mid Coast Hospital to blame the patient for not going back sooner."

"We appreciate the jurors' careful attention throughout this two-week medical malpractice trial, as well as their discernment in reaching this important and just verdict," Brennan said in a release. "On December 26, 2018, Josh went to the Mid Coast Hospital Walk in Clinic with warning signs of a life-threatening condition. A BlueWater medical provider working at the Mid Coast Hospital Walk In Clinic negligently overlooked those warning signs and, as a result, Josh's illness progressed to the point that it caused him to suffer numerous strokes and to require 31 days of life support. Although Josh is blessed to have survived, the medical' negligence has left him with life-altering injuries with which he will struggle for the rest of his life."

In a statement to NEWS CENTER Maine, Desjardins said the award shows that the errors made at the Mid Coast Hospital Walk-in Clinic "nearly cost me my life."

“I hope that my case makes it a little less likely that any other Mainers or their families will have to go through something like this," he said, in part.

"While we’re disappointed in the verdict, I know that Bluewater continues to stand behind the high quality of care from all of its providers at the Walk-in Clinic, and that it wishes Mr. Desjardins all the best in his recovery," Chris Taintor, a spokesman for BlueWater, said in an email to NEWS CENTER Maine.

John Porter, spokesman for MaineHealth, which acquired Mid Coast Hospital on Jan. 1, 2021, after the incidents prompting the suit, said, in part, "The jury found that acts of BlueWater's employee and the plaintiff were both contributors to the adverse medical outcome for Mr. Desjardins. Mid Coast Hospital was not found directly liable but was found vicariously liable based on the legal premise of apparent agency."

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