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Mechanic wins $9.1 million in medical malpractice lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS — A jury has awarded $9.1 million to a former auto mechanic who sued his anesthesiologists after suffering spinal cord damage and paralysis in a 2012 surgery.

Joseph Lakoskey's attorney argued that an anesthesiologist left him dangerously dehydrated before surgery at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale to repair a perforated bowel.

Lakoskey, now 51 and living in Minneapolis, went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and received fluids for dehydration until doctors found his injury and recommended surgery. But his attorney argued during the trial earlier this month that his treatment for dehydration was halted while he was started on anesthesia an hour before surgery, which caused his blood pressure to drop and his spinal cord to get inadequate blood flow.

Attorneys for Anesthesiology P.A., the private practice that provides anesthesia services at the hospital, denied that that was the cause of Lakoskey's injury.

"Joe Lakoskey wants nothing more than to have his life and ability to walk back," attorney Brandon Thompson said in a statement Friday. "This verdict will provide him with the resources he needs to live as independent a life as possible."


The newspaper reported that the National Practitioner Data Bank lists only two larger awards since 1990 involving licensed Minnesota practitioners — a $22 million settlement for inadequate monitoring by a nurse in 2000, and an $11 million settlement involving a catastrophic birth injury to a baby. The federal database misses some cases because of reporting loopholes.

Lakoskey tried to keep working after losing the use of his legs. But he eventually sold the business he had built up in Brooklyn Park on the strength of a $7 oil change. He said intensive therapy helped him gain strength and mobility in his legs to the point that he could use a walker to cross a 50-foot platform in a couple of minutes before grant and insurance funding ran out. He has tried to maintain his progress by swimming and using an exercise bike. He said he hopes money from the lawsuit will allow him to replace his broken-down wheelchair and resume therapy.

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