CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On March 24, a Kanawha County Circuit Court jury awarded $17 million to the plaintiff of a civil case against a Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) neurosurgeon.

According to the civil complaint, Mike Rodgers, of Pocahontas County, was permanently paralyzed after spinal cord surgery at CAMC performed in June 2017 by John Orphanos, M.D., of Kanawha County. Glasser Bailey law practice, which represented Rodgers, said Orphanos “recklessly and negligently operated on Mr. Rodgers’ sensitive spinal column.”

The complaint states Rodgers was admitted to CAMC’s Level One Trauma Center with injuries from a motorcycle accident on or around June 4, 2017.

Rodgers underwent a chest CT that suggested he had a T5 chance fracture. Rodgers initially showed no neurological issue and could feel and move all extremities.

On June 6, 2017, Orphanos prescribed a six-to-eight-week back brace treatment but later recommended vertebrae fusion surgery instead. Orphanos did not perform a preoperative MRI to determine if there were existing or potential problems with the spinal cord and surrounding tissue, according to the complaint.

Without performing an MRI, Dr. Orphanos was unaware Rodgers had cord compression and edema, spinal abnormality, spinal cord injury and an abundance of epidural fat. Without this critical information, Orphanos did not factor issues into Rodgers’s surgical plan nor did he use neurophysical intraoperative monitoring (NIOM) to guide the surgery.

After surgery, it was noted that Rodgers lost complete motor function and sensation in lower extremities.

Orphanos then ordered an MRI, but it did not show the surgical site or areas of concern. The doctor elected not to perform a CT myelogram that would have shown the surgical site and concerning areas.

The civil complaint states a second surgery was done without critical information that appropriate tests would have shown.

Rodgers still experienced loss of motor function and feeling in lower extremities after the second surgery. He has been wheelchair-bound as a T5 level paraplegic ever since. Rodgers has permanently lost feeling and control in his legs, bowel and bladder. He has been unable to work after injuries from the surgeries.

Ultimately, the civil complaint states Rodgers’s paraplegia was the result of Orphanos deviating from the standard of care multiple times.

Orphanos’s medical license record shows he earned his degree at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. He obtained a license from the West Virginia Board of Medicine and now primarily practices at Neurological Associates, Inc. in Charleston.

Orphanos was involved in another medical malpractice lawsuit from April 2016, which reached a settlement in March 2021, according to license records.

Bailey Glasser partners Greg Haddad and Sharon Iskra legally represented Rodgers in this case. Court hearings were overseen by Judge Tera L. Salango.

“This case sets an important precedent because it shows that when medical professionals provide substandard care to their patients, then they can expect to be held to account for their carelessness,” Greg Haddad said. “We are very grateful to the jury who saw through the attempts to rationalize the defendant’s conduct and delivered a jury verdict that will take care of Mr. Rodgers and provide the services he will need. Although his health will never be restored, this verdict sends a message to doctors and institutions who try to take shortcuts with patients and by doing so, play with their lives.”