The story behind family’s $340,000 legal bill

Noah Warden will need medical care for the rest of his life, according to his parents.

Noah Warden will need medical care for the rest of his life, according to his parents.

Stacy Warden first approached me about her legal bill back in February.

Because this case already involved a jury trial with a final decision, I was quite skeptical about airing this story.

In most cases, reporters shouldn’t be in the business of second guessing jury decisions, especially since juries have seen more evidence and spent time in court listening to both sides of a case.

I tried my best not to approach this story in a way in which we were second guessing the jury.  Even in my reporter standup, I mentioned the jury “had more information in this case than we do and saw all the evidence….”

My intent was to show the legal consequences of what could happen when you lose a lawsuit.

After showing some of the legal costs the Wardens faced to several attorney friends and acquaintances, I received a consistent reaction. Some of the “bill of cost” items listed in court documents seemed to be “unusual,” they said.  One attorney even told me the costs appeared “quite vindictive.”

We had much discussion in our newsroom about moving forward with this story and I knew, if the hospital didn’t offer its perspective, it was going to be nearly impossible to come across as objective.

I reached out to the hospital twice for comment, and both times the hospital declined.

How do you be fair when one side doesn’t want to explain their perspective?

We moved forward with the story because you rarely hear from the losing side of such a case.

Here are some of the viewer reactions to the perceived bias:

“Shame on 9 news for writing such a blatantly biased story as to pick out seemingly trivial expenses incurred by the defense. Plain and simple, expenses are expenses. Why don’t you write a story about the overwhelming abuse of the legal system that is creating such high medical malpractice costs?” – Dr. Nils Albert, via Facebook

 

“It is unfortunate you chose to write such a one sided piece. Our justice system allows for the prevailing party to collect back their legal expenses and that is exactly what the prevailing party is doing in this case. Our system is burdened by frivolous and unfounded lawsuits every day and perhaps plaintiffs and their attorneys need to think about this more seriously.

All too often attorneys take on cases and promise the moon when the case easily speaks for itself. I do not know the specifics of this case but the jury heard the evidence and made its decision. That is how it works. All involved must be willing to accept the consequences.

To try and play the sympathy card like this family and KUSA has done nauseates me. Shame on you.” -Ann Kennedy, via Email.

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4 thoughts on “The story behind family’s $340,000 legal bill

  1. David Mathewes

    I didn’t think the story was one sided. The family took a risk, and was willing they didn’t seem to care the risk involved. The comments that mother made left me feeling they only wanted money and didn’t care about the full story, or sequence of events that happened that caused the child’s disability. While I feel terrible for what they will have to do to care of their son, they took a chance and lost. I think the story was an eye opener for people who are looking for a huge pay day from the deepest pockets.

    Reply
  2. Andrea Klooster

    Thank you, Jeremy, for airing this story. There seems to be a huge assumption that losing a case means the case was frivolous and the family was wrong to sue. As a friend of the Wardens who knows a lot of the details of Noah’s story, I know that this could not be farther from the truth. Our legal system is far from perfect. Just as there truly are far too many frivolous lawsuits, there also are legitimate ones that lose in spite of overwhelming evidence. I think your story was exceptionally balanced. While I believe that the Warden family was grievously wronged by the court decision, you did not question it at all. You focused on a big corporation suing a family that has nothing for $340,000 including $1000 worth of room service and other frivolous charges, which absolutely does appear to be vindictive. This is not a story about frivolous lawsuits or about people looking for a big payday from deep pockets. It’s a story about a family trying to survive and about how a legitimate lawsuit with strong evidence can still end badly and have devastating consequences on an already struggling family.

    I am sure that for every negative comment you see, there are at least as many people who appreciated the story you told last night. The negative ones are just always so much more vocal.

    Reply
  3. Douglas Hutchison

    Everything in this country is “bottom line,” especially business. Whether this was a frivulous lawsuit or not – and I believe it wasn’t – makes no difference. The Wardens lost the case, but didn’t deserve to have the hospital go after them in a seemingly vindictive manner. And from the look of some of those charges, how else are we to explain it? Bottom line is that this family doesn’t have deep pockets, heck, they don’t have any pockets. Plus, they are strapped with unbelievable costs in the care of their son. The hospital isn’t going to get squat out of this, other than a black eye. Good PR for the Good Samaritan Hospital.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Family loses medical malpractice suit, gets bill for $340,000 | Lozner & Mastropietro

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