DENVER (KDVR) — The doctor and nurse involved in a breast augmentation surgery causing the death of a 19-year-old woman have been ordered to pay $2 million to the family in a wrongful death lawsuit settlement.
The insurance companies for Dr. Geoffrey Kim and Nurse Anesthetist Rex Meeker will pay $1 million each to the family of Emmalyn Nguyen, according the family’s lawyer. A confidential amount from CRNA Associates, the broker who placed Meeker in the practice, is part of the settlement as well.
The Problem Solvers also learned that more than $1 million of the settlement went to Medicaid to reimburse the federal government for the money it spent taking care of Nguyen for the 14 months she spent in the nursing home before she died from her injuries.
Nguyen was just 18 when she went into a coma following a breast enhancement surgery in August of 2019. It was supposed to be a basic outpatient procedure.
Nguyen went into a coma in 2019 and died in a nursing home in October 2020, 14 months after she went into the coma.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers visited with her and her parents when she was kept alive by a ventilator. The allegation was that she was given too much anesthesia by Meeker who had already been accused of accidentally killing a previous patient under similar circumstances.
Kim had his license suspended on an emergency basis after it was revealed that his office staff waited five hours to call 911 after Nguyen lost consciousness before her procedure even began. He is still allowed to practice after the incident.
Meeker is still allowed to practice as a nurse but has agreed he will never administer anesthesia again.
Attorney for the Nguyen family, David Woodruff of Denver Trial Lawyers said:
“Emmalyn’s parents and younger siblings are still grief-stricken by Emmalyn’s death. She was a bright, ambitious, loving young woman and her life was cut short by Dr. Kim and Mr. Meeker.
Dr. Kim’s malpractice insurance carrier offered his $1 million insurance policy limits, as did Mr. Meeker. Dr. Kim refused to contribute any of his own personal assets to compensating Emmalyn’s parents for the loss of their child. Mr. Meeker also refused to contribute any of his own personal assets.
Emmalyn’s family decided it was best to put this chapter behind them and accept this insurance money to resolve their claims. Another year of litigation and a trial would be emotionally and financially draining. Her family wants to remember Emmalyn’s bright smile rather than re-live her injuries and death.
The Nguyens are required by federal law to repay Medicaid a large portion of the money they receive.
Ultimately, the value of Emmalyn’s life was limited because Dr. Kim and Mr. Meeker did not carry adequate insurance. This is a sad reality in Colorado: physicians sometimes do not have nearly enough insurance to cover the devastating injuries and deaths they can cause.”