Over the years, Kirby & Holt has handled a number of cases that have been precedent setting or resulted in long-term safety improvements. Here are some of the more significant accomplishments of our firm:
Five-year-old Valerie Lakey of Raleigh was horribly injured when she sat on a defective pool drain in a kiddie wading pool and was trapped by the powerful suction, which pulled out most of her intestines. We represented Valerie and her parents and the subsequent verdict and settlement were the largest products liability verdict and settlement in the state's history. The verdict also was the largest in the history of the swimming pool industry.
More importantly, our attorneys helped the Lakeys in urging North Carolina to pass laws to better protect children in swimming pools. These laws have become a model for the nation. The story of Valerie's case received international publicity, and David Kirby was awarded the Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award by the American Association for Justice for his representation of Valerie Lakey.
Record Setting Medical Malpractice Settlement
Carli Snell, a little girl born in Gastonia, suffered a catastrophic brain injury at birth when medical providers failed to promptly deliver her.
Carli's parents were both medical practitioners. Her father was an anesthesiologist in private practice and her mother was a nurse.
Attorney Mark Holt contended that the doctor and nurses failed to respond to ominous signs and symptoms by delivering Carli in a timely manner. Instead, by waiting to deliver her, she suffered a major brain injury. As a result, Carli cannot, walk, talk, sit or roll.
Carli's case ended with the largest reported medical malpractice out-of-court settlement in the history of North Carolina.
Following the settlement, through donations from the Kirby & Holt Foundation and Carli's attorney, Mark Holt, an endowment fund was established through Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina to subsidize in-home therapies provided by the Easter Seals UCP Center in Charlotte to needy children living in Charlotte and surrounding communities with emphasis given to children from Gaston County. Mark now serves on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals-UCP's Horizon Foundation.
Record verdict in medical malpractice case
A Mecklenburg County jury rendered the State's largest medical malpractice verdict ever in the case of a young girl from Monroe who suffered a catastrophic brain injury and resulting cerebral palsy caused by negligence at the time of her birth.
The injury happened during birth. During labor, when the baby's heart rate had two long drops in its rate, the doctor decided to deliver the baby by vacuum extraction. The doctor tried twice without success to deliver the baby. A decision was made to deliver the baby by C-section, but the doctor first decided to check her messages and repair the episiotomy incision she had made for the vacuum extraction attempt.
A jury found the doctor negligent and awarded our client the largest medical malpractice verdict ever in North Carolina.
Ethan Bedrick - Insurance Company Denies Coverage for Therapies
Ethan Bedrick, a four-year-old from Charlotte who suffered cerebral palsy, needed many types of therapy, according to his doctors. But his health insurance carrier refused to pay for the therapies, contending he did not need them.
We represented Ethan in our federal court system in a lawsuit against the insurance company. At the end of a long court struggle, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1996 ruled in favor of Ethan, severely criticizing the insurance company's callous actions in cutting off Ethan's badly-needed therapies.
The opinion in Ethan's case has been recognized nationally in the debate over the rights of patients against HMO's and insurance companies, and has been cited many times in Congress.
Read the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion:
David Kirby and Isaac Thorp secured a multi-million dollar verdict in Asheville against a multinational business in this workplace violence case.
Top management did nothing when a worker known as "Psycho," who had a long history of violence and a fascination with guns, said he would come back to "take management with me" if he were ever fired. He returned two days later, killing three people and wounding another. The case resulted in the largest verdict in the nation in a workplace violence case. The case was featured on 20/20, CNN, and in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and several other national publications.
A Johnston County jury awarded several million dollars in the death of an 11-year-old boy, and a very substantial amount for the emotional distress of his father, who tried unsuccessfully to save his son.
The wrongful death award is believed to be the highest compensatory damage verdict ever in North Carolina for the death of a child, and the emotional distress award was among the highest such verdicts in a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.
The verdict came after an accident occurred at Smithfield Middle School. The defendant, an 84-year-old woman, was backing up her van in an area where students were dropped off before school. The driver apparently became confused, driving onto the school grounds and striking several students. Byrone Murray, 11, was killed.
The case was unusual in that by the time the case came to trial, the driver had died. Plaintiffs had concerns that sympathy for the driver and her family would hold the verdict down.
The jury was not allowed to be told that the negligent driver's insurance company had already paid its limits of insurance - $100,000 that was divided among the five students killed or injured in the crash - and the case was actually defended by the father's own insurance company, from which he had purchased uninsured/underinsured coverage. Erie Insurance Company had denied that its policy applied to the case, and also felt that the verdict was likely to be less than its coverage for the death case.
A declaratory judgment action was filed to determine whether coverage applied. The trial judge ruled that it did.
Death following plastic surgeon leads to changes in how doctors practice
Mark Holt represented the estate of a Charlotte woman who had mini face lift surgery in a doctor's office under sedation anesthesia. When the patient complained of pain, a certified registered nurse anesthetist gave the patient fentanyl. Combined with other medications the woman had already received, the medication left the patient unresponsive. The CRNA gave three more medications and attempted resuscitation on her own for 20 minutes or more before another staff member summoned the doctor.
The patient was found to have suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen and later died. The deceased, a 45-year-old woman, left behind two teenaged sons. The case settled out of court.
As a result of the death, the N.C. Medical Board initiated a disciplinary action against the doctor in whose office the death occurred and public attention was drawn to the issues regarding the need for regulations for in-office surgeries.
Laser hair removal results in national warnings
Lawyers at Kirby & Holt represented the estate of a 23-year-old college student from Raleigh who died as she prepared to receive a laser hair removal treatment.
The spa where the treatment was to be performed gave the student an anesthetic compound use to provide a numbing effect before treatment. The gel, which was sold to the client for self-application before arrival at the spa for treatment, contained prescription strength concentrations of anesthetic medications.
The gel was mixed by a compounding pharmacy, sold to the spa and subsequently re-sold to clients without a doctor's prescription.
On the morning of her first scheduled treatment, the student applied the gel and covered the area with a plastic wrap, as instructed, before leaving home for her appointment. She was overcome by the effects of the anesthetic on her way to the spa and pulled off on the side of the road. She was found by first responders to be unconscious and having seizures. She was taken to the emergency room where it was determined that she had toxic levels of the gel's ingredients in her blood from absorption of the medication through the skin. She was kept alive by machines for several days before being declared brain dead and died immediately after removal of artificial life support.
The case resulted in national publicity regarding the dangers of laser hair removal, an FDA warnings regarding numbing gels, North Carolina Medical Board charges against two doctors involved and the closing of the medical spa responsible for the young woman's death.