Trial to begin in case against doctors by gun shot victim who lost leg

David Yates Jan. 21, 2009, 2:32pm

Nearly four years ago, gunshot victim Jerry Sylvester saw justice done when a jury put away his assailant for 20 years.

Now, Sylvester is after a different kind of justice, as his civil suit against the medical doctors who treated his wound is set for trial.

Jury selection for the medical malpractice trial of Sylvester vs. Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital et al began Wednesday, Jan. 21 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

Sylvester sued the hospital and several other doctors in 2006 for not saving his leg from amputation. He alleges the defendants failed to "provide reasonable medical care under the circumstances."

Court documents show that after Rico Holland shot Sylvester in the leg on April 14, 2004, he was taken to Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth for treatment. Over the next few weeks, Sylveter was treated by defendants Beaumont Bone & Joint Institute and Drs. Charles Domingues and Daniel Thompson.

The suit does not state when Sylvester's leg had to be amputated. However, it states his injury required "multiple surgical procedures, and eventual amputation of his lower left leg after a prolonged hospitalization."

According to a news report in the Beaumont Enterprise, Sylvester's assailant, Holland, was around 19 years old when he shot Sylvester and was also up on chargers for shooting Curtis Everett in the ankle on May 22, 2004, when the two met after a confrontation earlier in the day.

"Holland already had been sentenced � to 20 years for shooting Jerry Sylvester of Beaumont in the leg," the article states. "Sylvester later lost his leg from the knee down."

Neither the suit nor news report state why Holland shot Sylvester.

According to court documents, Holland appealed after he was handed the 20 year sentence, and on Oct. 10, 2006, justices seated on the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals denied his request for a mistrial.

Sylvester's suit list 20 acts of alleged general negligence, such as failing to detect his condition and failing to run the appropriate tests.

The defendants' answers to Sylvester's suit all assert that the loss of his leg "was solely caused by the occurrence in question."

"Defendant(s) possessed no right of control and had no responsibilities � for factors which solely caused the occurrence in question," the answers state.

During the next few weeks, defendants Beaumont Bone & Joint, Dr. Domingues and Dr. Thompson will have to convince a Jefferson County jury they did everything in their power to save Sylvester's leg.

Christus, who was also a party to the suit, settled out of court in December.

All of the remaining defendants are represented by attorney Marion Kruse Jr. of the Kruse Law Firm in Houston.

Sylvester is represented by attorney Brian Sutton of the Sutton & Jacobs law firm in Beaumont.

Sylvester will ask jurors to award him money for his mental anguish, impairment and medical expenses.

Case No. D177-259

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