Patrick Arenz | Richard H. Tholen, M.D. v. Assist America, Inc. | $27.8 million verdict

A Podcast with Patrick Arenz

January 25, 2022

Patrick Arenz of Robins Kaplan LLP shares how he successfully represented Twin Cities, Minnesota plastic surgeon Richard H. Tholen after he was denied emergency medical evacuation by Assist America, Inc. for a severe knee injury, which resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. In April 2015, Richard "Dick" Tholen dislocated his knee on a zipline course in Mexico and attempted to use his American Medical Association membership privilege to initiate Assist America's emergency medical evacuation services, which are available to transport members when an international hospital is unable to meet the U.S. standard for medical care. It took more than 35 hours for a licensed doctor to evaluate Dick's injuries. After multiple conversations with Assist America's medical coordinators and the local hospital's improper use of a hard cast on Dick's soft tissue injury, he was denied transport.

Taking matters into his own hands, Dick took a commercial flight back to his Minnesota home and was evaluated by doctors who determined that he had a significant blood clot behind his knee. On May 18, 2015 — approximately one month after he sustained the injury — Dick underwent an above-the-knee amputation. In spite of Assist America Inc.'s attempts to blame Dick for the loss of his leg and misrepresent the facts in a published case study, a U.S. District Court of Minnesota jury found Assist America, Inc. negligent and guilty of breach of contract. In November 2021, the jury assigned $10 million in punitive damages to Assist America, Inc. and awarded Dick a $27,882,915.49 verdict, which was the largest personal injury verdict in Minnesota history.

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Patrick M. Arenz

Partner

Chair, Recruiting/Hiring Committee

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