1999 TRIAL LAWYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
WINNING PROPER TREATMENT FOR BRAIN-INJURED PATIENTS
Dianne Jay Weaver
Wynn v. Towey, et al.
Dianne Jay Weaver and Mike Ryan of Krupnick Campbell Malone Roselli Buser Slama Hancock McNelis Liberman & McKee in Fort Lauderdale won a landmark $17.99 million judgment against the state of Florida on behalf of Aaron Wynn, a man suffering from a traumatic brain injury who had been mistreated and abused in state hospitals.
Wynn spent much of his 3 1/2 years at a state evaluation and treatment center in seclusion and restraints - left for hours or days tied spread-eagled on a bed, covered in his own excrement, and medicated with drugs used for schizophrenia, not brain injury. Weaver believed this failure of the Florida Department of Health & Rehabilitation Services to provide proper medical care violated Wynn's civil rights, and she combed through 27,000 pages of documents on Wynn's treatment to discover the information she needed.
Weaver and Ryan structured the suit as a civil rights action and named 21 individual defendants, including those who directed the state facilities, the medical director who developed Wynn's treatment plan, and his physicians, social workers, and psychologists.
After a seven-week trial, the jury held 17 of the 21 defendants accountable and awarded Wynn $17.99 million dollars—the highest civil rights verdict in Florida's history. The state ended up settling the case for $17.75 million. Wynn now resides in a residential facility where he is treated with compassion and dignity, and the state has been forced to improve its treatment and evaluation of people suffering from brain injuries.
Weaver worked with Gloria Seidule as well; we thank her for her contribution, too.