SUN SENTINEL, January 13, 2012
Miramar teen who lost limbs wins malpractice suit
by Robert Nolin
A Miramar teen who lost all four limbs as a result of a vaccination
error 13 years ago won a $12.6 million medical malpractice award
Friday against the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
The amount the teen will receive, however, will nearly
be cut in half, as jurors deemed her mother was 40 percent at fault.
The verdict was handed down after a five-week trial
and three days of deliberations in Miami-Dade Circuit Court before
Judge William Thomas. The award is expected to be appealed.
Attorneys said Shaniah Rolle suffered intestinal problems
that caused her spleen, along with other organs, to be removed as
a newborn. Because the spleen acts as a filter against bacteria
and viruses, she had to be administered medicine that would prevent
In October 1998, her mother, Queen Seriah Azulla Dabrio,
took the child to the medical school's pediatric unit for a checkup.
A medical assistant injected Shaniah with a special vaccination
designed to protect against infection for people without spleens.
The vaccine, however, had expired five months earlier.
"It was a medication error," said Fort Lauderdale attorney
Crane Johnstone, who represented Shaniah.
Eight months later, Shaniah became seriously ill and
was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. She had a bacterial
infection throughout her body that caused blood clots to form in
her arms and legs. The infection led to gangrene in her limbs, and
doctors amputated her arms and legs above the joints.
"She developed the very disease they were supposed
to inoculate her against," Johnstone said. Her suit was filed
10 years ago.
UM's attorneys, Christopher Knight of Miami and John
Hall of Atlanta, argued that Shaniah would have contracted her illness
despite being given the expired vaccine. Her mother, an expert testified,
failed to give Shaniah enough medication to help stave off the infection.
That was the basis for jurors assigning 40 percent
negligence to Dabrio. The judge, according to the verdict form,
"will make an appropriate reduction in the damages awarded."
Dr. Jeffrey Bosco, who treated Shaniah, was found
by jurors to be 5 percent at fault in the case. Several other doctors
named in the suit were found not liable.
UM's medical school declined to comment on the case.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Charles Patrick, who also represented Shaniah,
said he expects the medical school to appeal the verdict.
The lawyers would not make Shaniah or her mother available
for comment pending that appeal, Patrick said, should they make
statements that might affect the outcome of that litigation. Dabrio
could not be reached Friday night.
Shaniah, outfitted with prosthetics, has pursued a
normal existence since her amputations, Johnstone said. She's on
the cheerleading squad at Miramar High School.
"She's a miraculous kid," he said. "She's
probably going to live another 50 or 60 years."
Sheldon J. Schlesinger, P.A. represents clients throughout
the state of Florida including the cities of Boca Raton, Boynton
Beach, Carol City, Cooper City, Coral Gables, Coral Springs, Davie,
Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, Hollywood,
Jupiter, Lake Worth, Miramar, Miami, Oakland Park, Palm Beach, Palm
Beach Gardens, Palm Springs, Pompano Beach, and Rivera Beach
Broward County • Miami-Dade County • Palm Beach