Suit claims hospital lost part of man's skull

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 19, 2010, 6:49am

GALVESTON - The family of a Henderson County man who reportedly fell while cleaning the top of a tank trailer in Pasadena is suing the University of Texas Medical Branch.

In a lawsuit filed July 9 in Galveston County District Court, Dwight Tatum's relatives accuse Brenner Tank, Brenner Tank Services and Southern Tank Leasing of either manufacturing, distributing, or selling a defective tank trailer to Intergulf Corporation, Tatum's employer, and UTMB of misplacing his skull cap as its physicians treated him after his July 16, 2008, accident.

The plaintiffs argue that the lack of fall protection caused Tatum to fall and strike his head and body on the pavement. He was immediately taken to UTMB where he was confined for many months as he awaited a craniotomy, which required the removal of his skull cap.

"It was the intent of Mr. Tatum's surgeons to replace the skull cap when his brain swelling had diminished to the point where such a procedure could safely take place," the original petition says.

The doctors were about to proceed with the replacement on May 22, 2009, when his skull cap was lost and a piece of artificial material was used in its place.

"Dwight Tatum remains hospitalized as medical care providers attempt to deal with the awful effects of his injuries," the suit says.

His family says he is deemed incompetent.

Consequently, the plaintiffs seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

The Edwards Law Firm is representing the Tatums, and the case has been assigned to Galveston County 212th District Judge Susan Criss.

Oddly, a similar suit was filed against UTMB in 2008.

Case No. 10-cv-1877

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