Case Description: Teri P. was an adolescent high-school student with concerns about her
acne. She was taken to a dermatologist who prescribed a medication called
Amnesteem (a generic form of Accutane). Although somewhat rare, instead
of lessening her acne, the acne became significantly worse. Proper treatment
would have been to discontinue the medication and/or prescribe antibiotics
and steroids. Unfortunately, Teri’s doctor was unfamiliar with this
complication called a “flare”. His opinion was that the flare
was a good sign of healing and, instead of backing off of the medicine,
he increased the prescription. Also, this medication has several very
important administration rules having to do with, for example, taking
it with food and dosing requirements tied to the patient’s weight.
He never once weighed Teri—not at the time of the original prescription
or at the times when the prescription was increased. Although her appearance
became worse throughout the treatment, Teri testified that the doctor
was so confident that the medication was working that she had faith in
his decisions and followed his instructions.
Injuries and Treatment: A multiple month delay in recognizing the problem resulted in permanent
facial scarring. The subsequent-treating doctor explained that, in effect,
the tissue between the skin on Teri’s face and her skull had melted
away. Treatment included procedures where the doctors would remove fat
from Teri’s rear end and legs, purify it and inject it into the
space between her skull and the skin of her face and forehead. The reconstructive
surgeon would also perform laser procedures to tighten the skin across
the newly injected fat. After 7 surgeries, permanent scarring still appears
across Teri’s face. In addition to Teri’s treating doctors,
doctors acting as expert witnesses also testified. The required standard
of care, it was explained, was to recognize the flare, stop the medication
and prescribe antibiotics and/or steroids to stop (and try to reverse)
Damages: There were approximately $100,000 in medical expenses and the projected
need for treatment in the future was minimal. There is simply not much
else that can be done to improve Teri’s appearance.
Plaintiff Demographics: This case involved an 18 year old girl who, by the time of trial, had
just finished high school and had begun college.
Results: Brett Oppenheimer’s legal team took this case to trial. A Warren
County, KY jury returned a verdict for Teri in an amount just over $2,000,000.00.
The verdict enabled Teri to continue in college without concerns about
the finances. She also ended up with sufficient money to know that any
treatment necessary in the future will be available to her. While Teri
cannot significantly alter the damage done to her skin, she has moved
on with her life and continues to further her education.