GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (CBS4) - A Greenwood Village doctor and a nurse anesthetist have agreed to pay $1 million each to the family of Emmalyn Nguyen, the Thornton teenager who died after a 2019 breast augmentation surgery, according to an attorney for the Nguyen family.
Court records show the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Nguyen family was recently settled.
"It's a travesty that an 18-year-old girl's life is worth such a small amount of money," said David Woodruff, who represents the Nguyen family.
He said there is additional money involved but that aspect of the case is confidential.
Lynn Fam, Nguyen's mother, said, "We're all still very devastated and grieving over the loss of our beautiful Emmalyn. It's still so very surreal. This settlement or any amount of money could never replace her. All we really want is for Emmalyn to be with us healthy and happy again. It's just crazy how these medical staff could get away with this and none of us still not knowing the truth about what really happened when Emmalyn was in the OR. How could they let that happen to her. Our lives will never be the same again and our hearts will never be at peace. It's so difficult losing a child under the hands of someone you thought knew what they're doing."
Nguyen underwent the surgery on Aug. 1, 2019 at the Greenwood Village office of Dr. Geoffrey Kim.
But after being administered anesthesia, Nguyen went into cardiac arrest. Kim later admitted he did not call 911 for help for approximately five hours. Nguyen was left brain injured, unable to speak, walk or feed herself and needing around-the-clock medical care.
She died 14 months after the surgery.
Dr. Kim later reached an agreement with state regulators admitting to "unprofessional conduct." He is serving three years probation but is allowed to practice medicine, with certain restrictions.
The nurse anesthetist in the case, Rex Meeker, voluntarily agreed to discontinue administering anesthesia but is allowed to continue practicing nursing.
Kari Hershey, an attorney for Dr. Kim, said, "Although this was a tragic anesthesia-related complication, the practice and Dr. Kim agreed to a resolution of the claims brought by Ms. Nguyen's parents in the hope that it would bring them some sense of closure."
Woodruff said most of the money was paid by insurance companies but will be eaten up by medical bills.
"It didn't have to happen at all," said Woodruff.
He said the family felt settling now was their best option as they did not want to go to trial and relive what happened.
"They're heartbroken," said Woodruff, "and ready to move on to the next chapter in their lives."
for more features.