BOSTON – A Springfield woman who claimed her doctor permanently injured her after he fell on her during a drunken stumble has been awarded $6 million.
Elizabeth Nelligan, 24, sued Dr. Mark Radzicki in 2005, claiming that during a social visit to his house, Radzicki broke her foot after he knocked her over while he was intoxicated. On Monday, a jury in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield awarded Nelligan $5 million. An additional $1 million in interest was awarded by the court.
Radzicki was Nelligan's primary care physician when she and her mother went to his house for dinner in January 2005. Nelligan's mother was dating Radzicki at the time.
In her negligence lawsuit, Nelligan said Radzicki became intoxicated, then staggered, stepped onto her right foot, lost his balance and fell on her. Nelligan said she was knocked to the floor, with her foot underneath her.
Her attorney, Charlotte Glinka, said X-rays taken the next day did not show a broken bone, but follow up X-rays several weeks later showed a healing fracture in her foot. The injury developed into a condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, or RSD, a chronic neurological syndrome with symptoms including severe burning pain, tissue swelling and increased sensitivity to touch. Entertainer Paula Abdul has said she was diagnosed with RSD in 2004.
Glinka said Nelligan, who was a college student when she was injured, has suffered nearly constant pain since and was forced to drop out of school for two years to manage it. She said Nelligan, who returned to college last fall, abandoned plans to go to medical school because she believes her pain would make it impossible for her to handle the demands of being a doctor.
"What the jury heard was that she could live another 50-plus years and she will always have this," Glinka said. "It can wax and wane, and it can be better at times and worse at times, but it will always be there."
During the trial, Radzicki denied Nelligan's claim that he was drunk. Radzicki, a general practitioner in Springfield, could not be reached for comment on the jury's verdict. Messages left for him Wednesday at his office were not immediately returned. His attorney, Timothy Netkovick, also did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Glinka said Nelligan had surgery to implant a spinal stimulator, which has relieved some of the pain from her condition, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Nelligan still takes pain and antidepressant medication, Glinka said.