Former Rebel football star is awarded $4.2 million in medical malpractice lawsuit 

Art by Soyoung Lee/The Rebel Yell.

Art by Soyoung Lee/The Rebel Yell.

Former UNLV football player Beau Orth has won his medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor whose botched spine surgery ended Orth’s football career, a jury ruled Wednesday.

In 2009, Orth noticed pain in his lower back. An MRI scan from the time showed that Orth’s L5-S1 disc was herniated – that is, the cushiony material between vertebrae began to slip out of place – and after the pain became more intense, he pursued surgery.

Dr. Albert Capanna was the one who performed the initial surgery on Orth’s back in Sept. 2010. However, it was determined by the jury that Capanna mistakenly operated on a different disc – L4-L5 – than the one that was initially causing Orth’s pain.

Orth testified in court that his pain only became more intense after Capanna’s initial surgery, and that everyday tasks became a painful chore.

In Oct. 2010, Orth saw another surgeon, Dr. Andrew Cash, to discuss treatment options. Cash determined that Orth would need more surgery, this time on both the correct disc – L5-S1 – and the disc Capanna had mistakenly operated on – L4-L5.

These surgeries alleviated Orth’s pain for a short time afterward, but his pain began to return within several weeks of the surgeries.

Cash testified that Capanna’s initial botched surgery was what caused Beau the most pain and distress. The jury agreed.

Orth was awarded $3.8 million for damages and another $486,000 for past and potential future medical expenses by the jury.

Despite Cash’s surgeries, Orth’s spine has continued to degenerate, and he will require two or more spinal fusion surgeries before he turns 50.

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