Jury Orders $187K In Damages In Hospital Lawsuit

A jury has ruled that St. James Healthcare in Butte is liable for $187,500 in damages for negligence in the 2006 death of a 36-year-old Butte woman from a rare blood disorder.

The Montana Standard reported the jury reached its decision Friday after a two-week trial, awarding $1 million from the hospital for economic loss due to Pana Schafer’s death along with $880,000 in emotional damages.

St. James attorney Lee Bruner told The Associated Press that emotional damages are capped at $250,000 by Montana law and the jury found the hospital’s failure to diagnose the blood-clotting disorder cost Schafer her 15 percent chance of recovery, making the award 15 percent of $1.25 million.

Bruner said at the time, the closest hospital where the required plasma exchange treatment was available was in Billings.