Suit Disputes Oregon’s Claim in Malpractice Award

October 23, 2013

A former Eugene woman is trying to keep the state of Oregon from claiming more than $200,000 from a medical malpractice settlement she received after suffering a stroke at age 27 that left her with only limited use of her arms and legs.

Attorneys for Danielle Elliott, who now lives in Enumclaw, Wash., filed suit in U.S. District Court in Eugene to block a lien sought against Elliott by the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The agency wants to be reimbursed for money it spent covering Elliott’s medical costs under the federal Medicaid program, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

Mary Williams, a deputy attorney general, said the state hasn’t been served with a copy of Elliott’s suit and typically doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Williams said it’s routine for the state to try to recover taxpayer money spent on certain benefits if the recipient’s financial situation later improves.

In Elliott’s case, the department wants to recover $236,000 it spent on Elliott’s care between October 2010, when she suffered the stroke, and her move to Washington in April 2011 to live with family.

The stroke left her with only limited use of her upper and lower extremities. She uses a motorized chair, cannot live independently and needs around-the-clock care.

In 2011 Elliott filed a $32.5 million lawsuit against PeaceHealth, as owner of Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, Eugene Emergency Physicians and three doctors involved in her initial treatment.

The suit claimed the doctors failed to properly diagnose Elliott’s illness when she came to the hospital emergency room, leading to the major stroke and extensive neurological damage.

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