CJ&D Medal of Justice Award, July 12, 2012: Herman Cole

Thursday, July 12, 2012

People who are wrongfully injured – and the families of those who have died – are the forgotten faces in the debate over the civil justice system. 

The CJ&D Medal of Justice recognizes the inspirational struggles of those who have been harmed through no fault of their own, and who turned their misfortune into something positive.  By successfully challenging wrongdoers in court, they stood up for justice and as a result, made the world a better place.  We admire their strength, respect their wisdom and honor their courage.

CJ&D Medal of Justice Award: Herman Cole


In July 1998, Herman Cole's wife Sadie, a vibrant, healthy mother of three young children, checked into a Connecticut hospital for a tubal ligation.  During the procedure, she was over-sedated by her anesthesiologist.  Her blood pressure dropped dangerously and damagingly low.  According to the anesthesiologist’s own testimony, he had turned off all the audible alarms.  He then removed the monitors altogether, even though Sadie was unresponsive. By the time medical staff realized she wasn't breathing, Sadie had already suffered severe, irreversible brain damage.  Sadie slipped into a coma and never recovered from a vegetative state.  Sadie's husband Herman visited Sadie virtually every day at her nursing home until she passed away in 2011.

In 2002,  Herman begged the state of Connecticut to revoke the anesthesiologist’s license.  The state refused, took no action and sealed his record.  Four months later in 2003, the same anesthesiologist did virtually the same thing to another young woman, leaving her in a permanent vegatative state.  She had been at the same hospital for the cesarean section delivery of her first child.  She finally passed away in April of this year.

Finally, the anesthesiologist’s license was suspended and then surrendered after a state investigation of the 2003 incident found he disconnected monitor alarms and failed to monitor the patient's respiration.  Incredibly, years earlier he had been permitted to practice in Massachusetts under a probationary agreement that required close supervision and monitoring of prescription drug use because of earlier abuse of tranquilizers, but when he moved to Connecticut, he was granted a full license without restriction.  

The families were represented by the Connecticut law firm of Silver Golub & Teitell, longtime members of CJ&D, which instituted suit for both families and, after prolonged litigation, was able to settle both cases against the hospital and the anesthesiologist for significant compensation.

Herman joined CJ&D in Washington DC several times to tell Congress about the devastating problem of medical negligence in this country, and the need to protect patients’ legal rights. 

We honor Herman, and we thank him.

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