DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A verdict in a 2015 medical-malpractice
case was recently overturned by a Florida appeals court after it was
discovered that testimony provided in the initial proceedings was
Accoring to a report
on Law 360, the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled against a
lower-court ruling against Dr. Annabel Torres and her medical
insurer, The Doctors’ Company, after she was found liable two years
ago for failing to properly treat a patient’s meningitis. The
patient, William Plummer, had gone to see Torres on two occasions
with the primary complaint of an earache. However, Plummer wound up
in an emergency room days after his second visit with Torres and
eventually died of meningitis.
Torres and The Doctors’ Company were sued by the patients’
wife, Nancy Plummer, in 2013 — slightly more than two years after
William's death — for failing to properly diagnose the cause of
William's earache, not doing a proper physical exam, not sending him
to a specialist or an emergency room, and prescribing a Z-pak even
though previously prescribed antibiotics did not work, according to
the Law 360 report.
Despite the lower-court ruling in Plummer’s favor in 2015, the
appeal was made shortly after the verdict by Thomas E. Dukes III, the
attorney for Dr. Torres and The Doctors’ Company.
The verdict was appealed because Torres’ legal team never got
the chance to review evidence — a packet that previously contained
antibiotics — that was introduced during the trial proceedings.
“We think it would’ve made a difference,” Dukes told the
There were also expert witnesses brought into court to testify
that Torres breached her duties as a physician by only prescribing
antibiotics. Not only was the expert testimony also considered
prejudicial, but one of the experts also even said that it was not
inappropriate for Torres to have given a sample of an antibiotic,
Levaquin, to Plummer’s husband.
“It constitutes unfair surprise,” Dukes said.
While the representation of evidence and testimony was a major
reason the verdict was overturned during the appeals process, there
was another unique factor in the case — the earache suffered by
Most symptoms of meningitis, according to the Mayo Clinic's
are usually flu-like in nature with a headache, stiff neck and fever
being chief comyplaints of the disease. A rash on an affected
person’s body is a major sign that a person has meningitis, and a
spinal tap — where fluid is taken from the spinal cord — is
to make a diagnosis.
Earaches do not appear to be a normal symptom of meningitis.
“We think it was an unusual manifestation,” Dukes said. “We
don’t think she could’ve predicted that.”
While the appeal was filed right after the verdict in 2015, it is
common for the appeals process to be lengthy making this case no
exception to that rule.
“It takes longer to get the case through appeal,” Dukes said.