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As a kid, Mike Roman raced go-karts and dreamed of being a race car driver. But all of his dreams and hopes seemed to disappear in 1994 when minor knee surgery led to a life-threatening staph infection. After thirty-three surgeries to save his leg, it was eventually amputated. But his difficulties didn’t end there.

“The minute they amputated the leg, the infection was gone, but I woke up with phantom limb pains. So for me, it felt like pliers on my toenails of the foot that’s gone,” said Mike Roman. “The only way my pain was controlled or managed even remotely was through intensely high doses of narcotics. There wasn’t one aspect that pain or medicine didn’t affect in my life. It slowly sucked the life out of not only me, but my wife and my kids.”

Doctors tried various procedures and medical devices to relieve the chronic pain Mike was suffering, but to no avail. Fortunately for Mike, medical device innovation was ongoing, and eventually the spinal cord stimulator – which had been tried before – progressed to where it could help him.

“It wasn’t until that technology had time to be developed and tweaked that it worked for me in 2005. On paper it’s genius, but it took time to develop that and it took a company.”

Freed from chronic pain, Mike was free to pursue his dream of racing in national events. On August 13th, 2009, on his third attempt at the Bonneville Flats Speed Weeks, Mike Roman broke the landspeed record in the J/GL Class Lakester Division at 165.127 mph.

Mike is worried that lawsuits may hamper the medical innovation that allowed him to race again. “Our fear as a family is that lawsuits will choke down the pipeline of innovation,” he says.

Mike says the goal of the legal system should be balance. “When lawsuits dictate what companies can do and what products they develop, then we are out of balance.”

“We don’t know what the future holds in medical technology. Please don’t slam the door on a patient’s hope, because there was a time when that’s all I had. But the technology caught up, and second chances can be made into miracles.”

3 comments

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  • I am an other victom of the process. My spinal issues rose to the level were I existed in body only. The medications took my personhood away. While waiting for FDA “approval” for approval of a procedure used in Europe for 35 years, I lost 11 years of my life. The issue MUST be adressed. ompanies use patients and patients hide behind companies. Help the Chamber stop the circle of delth. It CAN be done.

  • I have been living with pain for 12 years now. the last 5 have been excrusiating. I was forced to take a disability retirement at 47. Sounds great, but I am unable to do anything because of my pain. I wish that I could sue, but as it is I was a federal employee when I was injured and am unable to sue. I have had to go through as much pain working with Office of Workers Compensation Program as the actual injury. I finally had a spinal stimulator installed April 2010, which has illiminated 50% of my pain. Without the stimulator I would not be here as I would have committed suicide. As it is OWCP refused to pay for the stimulator and I am still fighting with them over compensation. OWCP is supposed to be there for the employee, instead they work to get injured employees to go back to work injured or quit. It would not be so bad if it didn’t affect my family. I would just be able to quit life, but I can’t leave my family without their father.

  • The way to stop these unjust lawsuits is to remove the method by which attorneys use to FORCE the respondant to settle out of court. The vehicle is the seventh Amendment in our constitution, expensive jury trials. We need to keep the seventh Amendment in place, but it needs to me modified to show that both parties to a law suit must agree to a jury trial, if they can’t agree then the case will go before a judge to be tried, where it will either be thrown out or a reasonable judgement entered with the right of appeal. In all frivolous law suits the attorney for the plaintiff lets it be known that their intent is to ask for an expensive time consuming jury trial if the case goes to court, regardles of the strength of the case, he knows the respondant must agree to a jury trial or settle out of court, settling out of court is usually what the respondants insurance company will do, and the plaintiffs attorney knows this.
    If the seventh Amendment were modified to require the approval of both parties to the lawsuit for a jury trial, the majority of the lawsuits filed today wouldn’t get filed because the attorney for the plaintiff knows the respondant won’t agree to a jury trial and won’t take the case because he can’t extort the respondant with the threat of a jury trial.