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Court Upholds Big Verdict In Case Against Overland Park Pain Clinic And Doctor

Joe Gratz
flickr Creative Commons

On Friday, a Kansas appeals court upheld a big jury award in the case of a 40-year-old man who took his life after a botched medical procedure left him with overwhelming spinal injuries.

The $2.88 million judgment in 2014 was the biggest malpractice award in Johnson County in more than 25 years. Because of Kansas’ cap on noneconomic damages, it was later reduced to $1.67 million.

Joel Burnette had gone to PainCARE of Overland Park to get relief from chronic back pain. He got a steroid injection, which he claimed punctured a swelling in his back that was infected.

The infection spread throughout his body and left him with an incurable disease of the central nervous system. In 2013, before his malpractice case went to trial, he killed himself.

The clinic and Dr. Kimber Eubanks, who administered the injection, appealed the jury award to Burnette’s estate and parents. They argued the trial judge had improperly instructed the jury. The appeals court said he did not and let the award stand.

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.