BAKER CITY — A Union County couple have filed a $26 million lawsuit against former Baker City surgeon Dr. Eric Sandefur and St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City.
Mark and Lynne Brown filed the lawsuit on Feb. 11 in Baker County Circuit Court. They are demanding a jury trial. The Browns allege that Mark Brown suffered a lifetime disability — the loss of mobility in his right leg — because of the defendants’ negligence.
Sandefur performed a total knee replacement of Mark Brown’s right leg on Oct. 16, 2018, at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City, the complaint states.
Mark Brown is asking for economic damages of up to $10 million for complications he alleges resulted after Sandefur performed the surgery.
Mark Brown claims as a result of an infection that developed and continued to worsen over the course of his recovery, and which he alleges Sandefur was negligent in treating, Brown’s right leg has been left immobile.
Because of his immobility, according to the complaint, Mark Brown is permanently disabled and can no longer work as a certified diesel and heavy equipment mechanic.
The lawsuit claims Mark Brown expects to “incur economic damages in the form of past and future medical care and expenses as well as medical devices and implements, including prosthetics; past and future lost wages and impaired earnings; and past and future substitute domestic services.”
Mark Brown also is seeking noneconomic damages of up to $12 million to be determined at trial. According to the complaint, Brown has experienced “severe pain, suffering, disability, anxiety, emotional distress, scarring, multiple hospitalizations, multiple surgical interventions, disfigurement, loss of self-esteem and permanent limitation on motion, together with interference of all aspects of his daily life.”
The Browns’ complaint also includes a second claim for relief against Saint Alphonsus Medical Center alleging that the hospital was negligent in credentialing and granting privileges for Sandefur to practice at the hospital.
The lawsuit alleges Saint Alphonsus should have known that prior to Sandefur’s treatment of Mark Brown, Sandefur “had a history of surgical outcomes that resulted in the development of infections.”
The lawsuit claims that the hospital should have performed “reasonable credentialing and ongoing peer review” of Sandefur to ensure the safety of its patients.
(A $5.2 million lawsuit filed Sept. 8, 2020, in Baker County Circuit Court accuses Sandefur, Veronica Crowder, a physician assistant who worked with Sandefur, and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center of negligence in connection with treating a fracture to 6-year-old Avery Martin’s right arm after she was injured on May 5, 2018.)
As part of the Browns’ lawsuit, Lynne Brown also is seeking $2 million for what she claims is the loss of her husband’s “society, companionship, consortium, services and support” as a result of the defendants’ negligence and violations.
In a fourth claim for relief, Lynne Brown seeks an additional $2 million in noneconomic damages. She alleges that as a result of Mark Brown’s injuries caused by the defendants’ negligence and violations, she has suffered “severe emotional distress and anxiety with depression.”
The Browns are represented by Brian C. Dretke of the Dretke Law Firm of Bend.
Sandefur is represented by Connie Elkins McKelvey, of Lindsay Hart LLP, a Portland law firm.
As of press time Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 17, McKelvey had not responded to a voicemail message and an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Saint Alphonsus Health System declined to comment.
“Saint Alphonsus cannot comment on pending litigation,” Mark Snider, Saint Alphonsus Health System spokesman, stated in an email to the Herald.
In a letter to his patients dated Dec. 21, 2020, Sandefur announced that “after 23 years of dedicated service with Saint Alphonsus, I have decided to explore new opportunities in healthcare.”
The letter stated that Sandefur’s last day of seeing patients would be Dec. 31, 2020.
In closing, he wrote: “I truly appreciate the trust you have placed in me to partner in your care and wish you the very best in health going forward.”