Following an initial verdict in 2012 in favor of Plaintiff Michael Bowbliss, a Fulton County, Georgia jury in March 2014, at the re-trial of Bowbliss’s claims, found in favor of the Defendants, Quest Diagnostics and its subsidiary, Quick-Med, and awarded Bowbliss $0.
In 2009, Michael Bowbliss applied for a life insurance policy, which required him to provide a blood sample. The Quick-Med examiner visited Bowbliss’s house and conducted an examination and a blood draw. The examiner testified that the draw was routine and without incident. Bowbliss, however, claimed that he experienced pain upon insertion of the needle and that the examiner continued with the draw despite Bowbliss’s alleged expression of pain. Bowbliss, through his lawyer, claimed that when the examiner conducted the blood draw, she inserted the needle in his arm at a 45 degree angle, allegedly causing a nerve injury which developed into a chronic pain condition called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
The First Trial
Bowbliss initially filed a negligence claim against Quest Diagnostics and Quick-Med in March 2010. Bowbliss’s then wife, Dee Anna Bowbliss, filed a loss of consortium claim due to her alleged loss of companionship as a result of her husband’s alleged nerve injury. At the first trial, the jury found in the Bowbliss’s favor. Before the trial concluded, however, the trial court judge reduced the damages award substantially, striking a significant portion as speculative.
Following the trial, Quest Diagnostics and Quick-Med challenged the jury’s award as inappropriate and inconsistent with the evidence. The trial judge agreed and vacated the entire damages verdict, finding the jury’s award was not supported by the evidence, improperly speculative, and excessive.
The Second Trial
During discovery for the new damages trial, Quest Diagnostics/Quick-Med obtained new evidence calling into question the evidence the Bowblisses presented in the first trial, discrediting their claims. Based on this new evidence, which the first jury had been unable to consider, Quest Diagnostics moved to dismiss the entire case as a sanction for perpetrating a fraud on the court at the first trial, or, in the alternative, other significant sanctions. In August 2013, the trial court judge granted that motion, finding that the Bowbliss’s evidence at the first trial may have been misleading and prejudicial and inflated the total value of the jury’s award. As a sanction, the trial court judge vacated the first jury’s verdict and granted the defense a new trial on all claims.
In March 2014, the parties re-tried the case. Quest Diagnostics/Quick-Med presented the new evidence to the jury, as well as evidence that the examiner had performed tens of thousands of blood draws over her career, without incident. After deliberating for only a few hours, the jury issued a unanimous and complete verdict in favor of Quest Diagnostics and Quick-Med, and awarded Bowbliss $0. The verdict demonstrates that juries are skeptical of claims alleging nerve injury in connection with venipuncture blood draws, one of the most common medical procedures performed in the country.
Bowbliss tried to challenge the jury’s defense verdict in both the trial court and on appeal, but those challenges were all rejected. In September 2015, the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed the award in favor of Quest Diagnostics and Quick-Med, officially ending the case.