A Riverside County jury this week awarded $16.5 million to an area man and his wife after the panel agreed that a doctor's negligence left the husband paraplegic following a back injury, the Beverly Hills law firm representing him announced.

The victim, 41-year-old Trent Hughes, was off-roading in Glamis, Ariz. on Nov. 2, 2003 when he hit a bump and injured his back. He went to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and waited for the on-call doctor to treat him. His lawyers say Christopher Pham was supposed to report to the emergency room within 20 minutes of being called, but that the doctor didn't finally get around to performing surgery on Hughes' fractured spine until two days later.

That delay, the lawyers say, caused his paraplegic condition.

“By then, the numbness and tingling that Mr. Hughes had experienced in his feet at the time of the accident had spread and had risen up his legs into his thighs,” lawyer David Bricker of Ervin Cohen & Jessup stated. “By the time Dr. Pham finally operated on November 4, 2003, the damage to the spinal cord had become irreversible and it was simply too late to restore any function. As a direct result of Dr. Pham's failure to see Mr. Hughes and to operate immediately on November 2, 2003, Mr. Hughes was left a paraplegic.”

The jury took eight hours to come back with a unanimous verdict in the Hughes' favor. It was the second trial for the suit: The first ended with a jury's verdict overturned as a result of alleged misconduct by a defense attorney. Desert Regional Medical Center already settled with the couple for an undisclosed amount.

[Press release].

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