A district judge has denied a motion by the State of Nebraska for a new trial on the issue of damages awarded in the case of Ian Ham against the State of Nebraska.
The motion, filed by the state’s attorney Michael Rumbaugh was heard by Gage County District Judge Paul Korslund. Both Rumbaugh and the Ham’s attorney, Bruce Mason, argued the motion in a Tuesday hearing conducted over the telephone.
Last July 24th, Korslund ruled the state must pay $150,000 general damages to the guardian of Ian Ham, a former resident of Beatrice State Developmental Center who suffered pain and distress as a result of feeding tube that was improperly placed at Beatrice Community Hospital.
The ruling followed a bench trial, held last April. The judge ruled BSDC staff was not negligent in their oversight of Ham and treatment of his diabetes.
But the judge ruled a BSDC staff physician, Doctor Hai Tran, was negligent in failing to examine Ham and by ordering feeding through the improperly-placed tube.
Rumbaugh did not take issue with the finding of liability, but argued the $150,000 damage award for pain and suffering was excessive. He said the attending physician at the hospital was actively involved in Ham’s pain management during a 21-day hospital stay.
Rumbaugh said the evidence at trial did not justify the $150,000 award to the guardian of Ian Ham, Sandra Ham.
Ham’s attorney, Bruce Mason, countered that BSDC Nurse, Deb Rinne and the attending physician, Doctor Blake Butler both clearly described the pain Ian Ham was suffering.
Mason argued the pain Ham suffered warranted an even higher amount of damages, but said the $150,000 damage award was justified. Rumbaugh argued that a damage award of $50,000 was more appropriate.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice