Lisa King, as Special Administrator of the Estate of John P. King. V. Sue Kramer and La Crosse
USDC – Western District of Wisconsin
Patton & Ryan partner John W. Patton, Jr. and associate Katherine Crouch secured a defense verdict for correctional care nurse Susan Kramer after a four-day trial in Madison, Wisconsin. Patton & Ryan was retained to participate in this case on November 14, 2012, with a trial date of January 14, 2013. After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury concluded that Nurse Kramer was not deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of John Porter King, a pretrial detainee in the La Crosse County Jail.
Plaintiff Lisa King brought suit as the special administrator of her husband’s estate, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated when Nurse Kramer ignored his serious medical condition and denied him proper treatment thereof. On the date of King’s death on April 18, 2007, he suffered a series of seizure-like episodes, allegedly as a result of withdrawal from Alprazolam (Xanax). Drawing upon more than three decades in nursing (including twelve years in correctional care), Kramer concluded that Mr. King was faking seizures and monitored his condition from the jail rather than having him transported for emergency care. Mr. King ultimately died of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease shortly after Kramer’s shift ended. Plaintiff asked the Court for compensatory and punitive damages as a result of her husband’s loss of life.
Patton & Ryan developed a successful defense strategy and vigorously defended Nurse Kramer’s care of Mr. King. Motions in limine effectively limited the range of issues presented to the jury and minimized the effect of certain testimony that could have been highly prejudicial to Nurse Kramer. The jury ultimately found that John King did have a serious medical need on April 18, 2007, but concluded that Nurse Kramer did not violate King’s constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to that serious medical need.
This positive result avoided a potentially significant verdict in a case that had a long and complicated procedural history, having been remanded from the Seventh Circuit in 2012. Patton & Ryan mastered a complex case on short notice, then advocated strongly on Nurse Kramer’s behalf. Despite the blistering pace maintained by the Court, Patton & Ryan ensured that the best evidence was properly heard by the jury and argued compellingly in closing that the allegations against Nurse Kramer were unfair and groundless. The jury agreed, reaching a unanimous verdict in Nurse Kramer’s favor.