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TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida woman who lost her hands and feet from complications after surgery to remove a benign ovarian cyst was awarded more than $109 million in damages, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
A Tampa jury on Friday awarded Lisa-Maria Carter the damages from the University of South Florida. The surgery in November 2010 took place at Tampa General Hospital through the USF college of medicine, which employed the surgeon, the Times reported.
In a medical malpractice suit, Carter, 52, alleged that she suffers from constant abdominal pain due to a surgical error and the near severance of her small intestine. Complications from the surgery led to gangrene in her hands and feet, requiring four amputations below her elbows and knees, the Times reported.
Carter was an intelligence analyst with the Department of Defense, but now she must use a wheelchair and needs assistance when she eats or bathes, the Times reported.
“It’s very hard emotionally,” Carter told the Times on Monday from a rehabilitation center in St. Petersburg. “I try to keep my head up and not worry about it.”
To collect, Carter must go to the Florida Legislature and seek the passage of a claim bill. The university is protected from exposure in lawsuits through Florida’s sovereign immunity law, which has a cap for damages at $100,000, the Times reported.
The school also can appeal the case.
“The University of South Florida has great sympathy for Ms. Carter and we recognize the life-changing injuries she has suffered,” USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez said in a statement. “We also believe that the verdict that was delivered was not supported by the evidence. We will be carefully evaluating several grounds for appeal.”