Jury awards Jehovah’s Witnesses family

//Jury awards Jehovah’s Witnesses family

A Fulton County jury awarded just over $100,000 to the family of a woman who died after refusing to receive blood transfusions because of her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness. The verdict came after three weeks of trial and two days of deliberation.

An attorney for the plaintiffs had argued that the Atlanta Medical Center—which offers a bloodless medicine and surgery program for patients who wish to avoid “bank” blood or blood products—could have saved Miriam Anderson’s life had it acted sooner in response to her bleeding 10 days after delivering a baby.

But, said Kenneth Connor of Augusta, jurors couldn’t get around the fact that Anderson had refused to accept a blood transfusion despite knowing that her life was in peril. “There was no question that she realized she was in dire straits,” said Connor. But Anderson, he said, was faced with a “Hobson’s choice: put her soul at risk or put her life at risk. And she was unwilling to forfeit her religious beliefs.”

The hospital, he said, touts its bloodless medicine program but failed to provide the care Anderson needed to prevent her from having to make that choice.

Connor, whose team included Connor & Connor colleagues C. Caleb Connor and Camille Godwin and Atlanta solo Tracee Benzo, said he was gratified that the jury found for his client on one of 10 claims: negligent misrepresentation against the Atlanta Medical Center

Connor said the plaintiffs’ team is considering its options regarding any post-trial motions regarding the verdict.
The Atlanta Medical Center was represented by Kevin Race, Brian Mathis and C. Elizabeth Stell of Insley & Race.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Anderson family,” said Race in an emailed statement. “However, we strongly support the actions of the staff and physicians at Atlanta Medical Center who fought to save Ms. Anderson’s life while also respecting her and her family’s deeply held religious beliefs.”

Weathington Firm partners Paul Weathington and Tracy Baker represented a co-defendant, emergency room doctor Mark Waterman, who was cleared of any liability.

“We think the jury got this right,” said Baker. “This was a tough, unusual case, and the jury was very smart and attentive.”
According to the attorneys and trial documents, Anderson, 27, gave birth to her second child in July 2011 in a normal, vaginal delivery at the Atlanta Medical Center and was discharged. Ten days later, she was experiencing vaginal bleeding and called 911. Emergency medical technicians responding wanted to take her to the hospital, but she declined. Later that day, Anderson again called 911 and was taken to the Atlanta Medical Center emergency room.

According to the defense portion of the pretrial order, Waterman examined her in the ER, determined she was experiencing “moderate at worst” bleeding and ordered intravenous fluids and an ultrasound test.

“There was really a striking amount of ill will expressed about Jehovah’s Witnesses,” said Connor. “That was a surprising finding, in terms of the breadth and depth of those feelings.”

The ultrasound revealed that Anderson’s uterus contained “retained products of conception”: placental and other tissue following a delivery or termination of a pregnancy. In consultation with an obstetrician, Waterman admitted Anderson for a dilation and curettage to remove the tissue. Prior to the surgery, Anderson signed a Blood Product Consent Form upon which she “refused whole blood, major blood fractions, and all minor blood fractions except for albumin.”

During the surgery, the defense account said that Anderson lost 2,500 cubic centimeters—or 2.6 quarts—of blood. (The average adult human body contains a little over 5½ quarts of blood, according to MedicineNet.com.)

Connor said the plaintiffs contended that Anderson had been bleeding heavily before she underwent surgery, and that much of her blood loss could have been by prevented by taking her to surgery immediately.

“She was clearly bleeding in the emergency room; they commented about their inability to do an intravaginal exam because of her bleeding,” said Connor. “The problem was that the records did not show how much she was losing; part of our complaint was that they weren’t documenting that.”

Anderson was taken to the intensive care unit, where she died the day after the surgery.

In 2013, Anderson’s two children, through their fathers, and the executor of her estate, sued Tenet Healthsystem GB, Atlanta Medical Center’s parent, and Waterman for medical malpractice. The suit also accused the hospital of ordinary negligence, negligence per se, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and punitive damages. A claim for violation of Georgia’s Fair Business Practice Act was later added against the hospital, as was a punitive damage claim against Waterman.
Shortly before the trial began, a mediation at Henning Mediation and Arbitration Service before Thomas Tobin failed to resolve the suit, Connor said.

Trial began Jan. 25 before Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams. Connor said jury selection was complicated by the negative reactions some potential panelists expressed toward Anderson’s faith.

“There was really a striking amount of ill will expressed about Jehovah’s Witnesses,” said Connor. “That was a surprising finding, in terms of the breadth and depth of those feelings.”

Connor said his team called three key experts to bolster their case: Aryeh Shander, the director of Englewood Hospital’s Institute for Patient Blood Management and Bloodless Medicine in New Jersey; Arnold Friedman, the chairman of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital’s OB/GYN department in New York; and Debbie Travers, a nursing professor at the University of North Carolina who authored a book on how to triage a patient.

Baker said Waterman’s team only called one expert: Sheryl Heron, a professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and an ER doctor at Grady Memorial Hospital.

“The plaintiffs did not have any emergency experts, so her testimony was key for our case,” said Baker. A key witness for the hospital was Krystal Ridings, a registered nurse at Northside Hospital, Baker said.

During closing arguments on Feb. 10, Connor said, he did not ask for any specific account of money damages.
The jury deliberated until the afternoon of Feb. 12, when it returned defense verdicts on all claims against both defendants except for the negligent misrepresentation claim against the hospital, and awarded $101,261 in damages.

Both Connor and Baker were highly complimentary of opposing counsel and of Adams’ handling of the expert-heavy case. They agreed that jurors laid most of the responsibility for Anderson’s death on her decision to turn down a transfusion.

“At the end of the day, the jury obviously felt that she bore the responsibility for her own death,” said Connor.

A website for Jehovah’s Witnesses, jw.org, says members of the faith do not accept blood transfusions because, “Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10; Deuteronomy 12:23; Acts 15:28, 29).”
The site addresses “common misconceptions” about Jehovah’s Witnesses and medical treatment.


2016-12-08T15:10:39+00:00 February 22nd, 2016|JW News|16 Comments
  • D34D 4L!3N

    FACT – there is NO better chance of survival during or after surgery using blood transfusions then not using.

    blood transfusion doesn’t guarantee life,
    neither does not using blood.
    BUT taking blood DOES increase chances of disease and WILL cause rejection issues.

    just to bring some up to date here, it was just recently discovered that alzheimer’s has now been linked to blood transfusions.
    sad for all the poor suckers that got duked on that deal

    • Jim

      I do not wish to disagree with you on your faith based decision to abstain from blood. And I do agree that blood is all too often used.However, I do disagree with you on the medical points you make. “No better chance of survival during or after surgery?” Perhaps, except in the case of severe blood loss during surgery or post-op. “BUT taking blood DOES increase chances of disease and WILL cause rejection issues.” Increased chance of disease? Of course. But you are incorrect that it WILL cause rejection issues.

      I am not promoting the use of blood. It would be wrong of me to try and persuade you otherwise. Just pointing out the inaccuracies in your statements. I have taken a stand on the blood issue at least five times in the case of my son. One time I rushed from work to the hospital when doctors wanted to transfuse him. His hemoglobin was very low. My wife is a nurse, and she is well aware of the overuse of blood/blood fractions. We stopped it. When my wife donated a kidney to my son, we signed the paperwork that nether one of them was to be given blood. They were both in the O.R. at the same time. I faced the real possibility, however remote, of losing one or both of them in the case of massive blood loss. Another time was when my son’s scrotum was swollen the size of a softball after a surgery. He was 9 or 10 and miserable and in pain. They wanted to give him albumin (a blood fraction now “allowed” for whatever that is worth). He was miserable and in pain. Imagine knowing that you could grant him relief, but following your conscience and not allowing a blood fraction. I won’t mention the other times.

      My family did not want to displease God. There was no fear of elders or of any other man. I have spoken to brothers on the Hospital Liaison Committee more than once.

      Then I stated thinking. Why do we refuse blood? What is the scriptural backing? What is the creator’s view? For me, I came to the conclusion that their is no clear scriptural provision from using blood/blood products donated by living humans. Blood was ordered by Jehovah to be returned to him or poured out, when taking an animal’s life, as recognition of the life lost. All life is precious to him. We do not have the natural right to take animal life. It is a loving provision from Jehovah.

      Again, I do not want to persuade you to abandon what you believe in this regard. I am just another human, and I could be incorrect in my view. But I don’t think so. So, based upon research, reasoning and prayer in this regard, just as I stood firm before rejecting blood I stand firm now in my belief that it should be an individual conscience issue.



      • D34D 4L!3N

        you can in no way prove nor guarantee that anyone would have servived or will survive if they chose blood anymore then not. thats a fact jack… or jim

        however, the truth is, faith and love in Jehovah is life whether we die or not Jehovah is out life source and hope for a resurrection. our blood belongs to him and who am i to argue with him

        • Jim

          Brother. I wish the best for you. Keep you faith in Jehovah. I do not believe, as you say that you are ” mentally deranged with magic unicorns and fairy dust”. Sorry brother, but you do seem a bit “touched”. I wish the best for you. But you have managed to display a level of ignorance regarding medical issues. I certainly hope you are not a parent.

          • @ D34D 4L!3N Jim would you guys like to slug it out in the lobby? shall I put you both over my knee? I’m jk common guys don’t we all have enough to worry about in the world I mean things are so bad shouldn’t we be taking care of each other? think about it theres nothing more upsetting then seeing brothers fight over the truth is that what Jehovah wants? why allow satan to slander god further with these bad feelings agree to disagree and ask Jehovah for direction. why allow satan to operate through you remember what jesus said to peter.

            Matthew 16:23

            23 But turning his back, he said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”

          • magic unicorns and fairy dust? these comments just get more and more colorful with each passing day lol.

          • Teleologist

            Hi Jim. I agree with you on the blood issue. I would like to talk with you about it.

          • Teleologist

            Hi Jim, I agree with you on the blood issue. Please contact me. I have some questions for you.

        • Jim

          And one more thing, R2D2 or D34D (is that a lubricant?). Your response to me wasn’t very well reasoned. You seem to have flied off the handle. I hope that you do not have access to any weapons. I suggest you contact one of the local brothers and a mental health professional as well.

          • D34D 4L!3N

            i am the mental healh professional. your suggestion is a crock. take a hike

      • the blood issue can be very frightening but still god commands to abstain from blood its that simple. any conscience individual when faced with the blood issue would understandably be terrified but we should first keep in mind gods commandment to abstain from blood and put the matter in jehovah’s hands through faith and prayer. yes one could say that’s easer said then done because we are talking about our loved ones but we must also remember the gift of salvation that Jehovah has blessed us with and he did this by allowing his son jesus Christ to be a sacrifice a ransom for our sins i mean it could not have been easy for Jehovah to allow and watch his first born son be crucified in the way he was and why? well so that we who are not worthy might have salvation. just emagen how Jehovah was suffering during this time. emagen how jesus was suffering during this time but in the end what did jesus say? father it is accomplished and now mankind has a chance to be redeemed. you see man is not the only ones who have suffered here Jehovah and jesus has suffered a great deal as well and why? because they love us. i don’t mean to get off topic here but my point is Jehovah and jesus has suffered a great deal for us and yes we to may suffer when faced with the blood issue but we must remain faithful through prayer and Obedience to gods word. if we do this has not Jehovah proven time and time again that he will hear and answer our prayers? i do not take the blood issue lightly it can be very terrifying but we must also have faith and remember that Jehovah can and will make the way out.

        Matthew 19:26

        26 Looking at them intently, Jesus said to them: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

        the scriptures say the life of the body is its blood and all life belongs to Jehovah and we must respect what is gods so if god says abstain from blood then i will abstain from blood. Jehovah and jesus has suffered for us so i will suffer for them if that is gods will.

        Psalm 36:9

        9 With you is the source of life;
        By your light we can see light.

        • Jim

          Well, as you can see, myself and my family did take a stand on the blood issue. Multiple times. Although I still go to the hall and view this as the “truth” I reject the organization’s teachings on blood. Yes blood is representative of life. Humans have no natural right to take life, but after Noah’s flood, Jehovah made an exception to his own rule and allowed mankind to kill animals for food. He has that right. Since all life to him is sacred, the only thing that he asked in return, was to pour out the blood in recognition of the life lost. Blood transfusions from a living donor result in no such loss of life. And at times result in preserving life.. There are many, many other inconsistent policies and teachings regarding blood. It either belongs to Jehovah, or it doesn’t. If it belongs to Jehovah, what right do we have to take ANY fraction of it? Kinda like if someone stole a car. It still belongs to the original owner, does it not? Would someone be justified in taking, say the stereo system for their own personal use/ benefit? Or how about an even smaller “fraction” of the car, say a hubcap? No. I have been raised in the truth, and have been baptized for 30 years. The societies blood teachings are seriously flawed. In my view, they are wrong no matter what. They are either wrong in going beyond what is written in their prohibitions, or they are wrong in allowing ANY part of blood at all. Also, the viewpoint until around 1980, I think, that organ transplants were cannibalism.. What flawed human reasoning. My son did have a kidney transplant. It extended his life from a baby and we got to get to know him. He lived another 24 years. I shudder to think what my decision would have been if he had been born pre-1980. It is awfully easy for someone, such as yourself, to tow the party line, when never having to have faced these issues. Again, we did face them, and were faithful to the current teachings. But then after having gone through it, you start to think. Why do I believe what I do regarding blood? Then when you start to use your own power of reasoning (shudder, independent thinking, as some would call it)., it all falls apart.

          • I commend you and your family for taking a stand I really do and I do understand what you are saying but I my self will strictly follow scripture I will not take blood or blood fractions of any kind nor will I allow a transplant of any kind but that’s just me and as ive said yes its a lot easer said then done and I have never faced these issues my self I could only emagen how terrifying it would be but I feel the only real way to deal with the issue is to strictly follow scripture. in my earler comment I did not mean to go off topic but rather I was trying to show the sacrifices that Jehovah and jesus has made for us and so my point was we should also be ready to sacrifice and suffer as well and I was also pointing out that when faced with these issues faith and prayer can go a long way and most importantly Jehovah can make the way out no matter what we might be faced with but the scriptures also say that we should be ready to indure and persevere.

            • Jim

              Brother, you are correct in following your conscience in this matter. I typically TRY to keep my thoughts on blood to myself. I really would not want to stumble anyone else. You and I both know that we have the basic truths that are hidden from most of christendom’s churchgoers. Isn’t it wonderful! And I do hold out the possibility that I am wrong in my view. But I don’t think so. And I would never go on a crusade to change other’s viewpoints on matters of faith. Not even 1914. It is not my place. And yes, you are correct when you say we should be willing to suffer for our faith. BTW, hopefully you enjoyed the memorial. I am always touched how painful it must have been for Jehovah, as a father, to watch his son suffer. Possibly, he could have sent any one of his angelic sons to be born as a perfect human and die for our sins. I do not see any scriptural reason why this could’t be the case. But he sent his only begotten son, the firstborn. Wow. Think about it. What an aweson God we have.

          • Teleologist

            Hi Jim, please contact me as I have some questions.

  • Jim

    Blood transfusions should be an individual conscience issue.

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