Posts tagged with "medical malpractice"

Family Awarded $7.6 Million for Forgotten Gallbladder Death

Nam Lee was 60 years old when he was admitted to the New York Hospital Queens in 2008 for an inflamed gallbladder. His surgery to remove the organ was set for the next day, but somehow never made it onto the surgical schedule. The day after that, his name was again left off the schedule. By then, he was too sick for surgery and died on his fourth day in the hospital.

How could such a preventable death have occurred? A lawyer for the hospital admitted the facility messed up, but that didn’t bring Lee back. Worse, he was the primary caregiver to an adult daughter who suffered from mental illness, who had no choice but to enter a state institution after her father’s death.

A jury took note of the family’s plight last week and found the hospital liable for $7.6 million, an unusually high amount in New York state, where wrongful death suits are only allowed to consider economic losses, and not take into account factors like emotional pain and suffering.

New York is one of only eight states in the nation that only looks at economic damages in wrongful death cases. “Wrongful death has a very strict construction,” says Andrew Barovick. “You have to be able to assign a monetary value that the family is going to do without because the person is no longer around. There’s no component to take into account the emotions of the family left behind.”

Lee was a 60-year-old salesman, so it’s unlikely his future earnings would be valued at the same level as, say, a hedge fund manager in his twenties. However, the fact that he was a caregiver to a disabled daughter could be considered—services provided to the family are eligible to be included in the award. “Something that can be assigned some value, even if it’s very token,” Barovick says. “Things like watching grandchildren, driving a grandmother around, helping kids with their homework.”

The fact that the suit also involves medical malpractice also helps account for the award’s value—the jury is allowed to consider the pain and suffering of Lee himself in the days before he died while he waited for a surgery that never came.

The ban on non-pecuniary damages in wrongful death cases prevents hospitals from being held accountable for their treatment, Barovick says. “There are countless cases in New York state where a hospital kills an elderly retired person, and the aggrieved family then has to hear from someone like me that’s it’s really not worth bringing a lawsuit because there’s really no damages,” he says. “A court will look at this in a very cold and clear way. So many wrongful deaths involve elderly people who, under the law, have lives that aren’t worth much.”

New York has not yet been hit with so-called tort reform laws that have been popping up around the country, limiting what plaintiffs can collect in malpractice cases, so some measure of punishment does exist for hospitals that kill their patients. However, hospitals have been under fire recently for under-reporting errors. “There’s a whole culture of not reporting errors within hospitals,” says Barovick. “Doctors not reporting other doctors, not only within hospitals but with state medical boards and disciplinary boards. Even when it’s done, it often takes a lot to actually see doctor discipline take place.”

“In general there’s very little accountability and the whole tort reform movement has poisoned people against plaintiffs and trial lawyers,” the lawyer says. “At least in New York, we can still bring most kinds of medical malpractice cases.”

Lee’s widow said she plans to use the money to bring her daughter home from the state institution, but doesn’t start spending yet—the hospital is appealing the award.

“The verdict was grossly excessive based on sympathy,” hospital attorney Shawn Kelly told the New York Daily News. “The jurors were overwhelmed with sympathy for the family and the daughter. That’s what happens on Christmas Eve.”

The verdict could still help hospital conditions by drawing attention to the Queens facility’s regrettable, and preventable, mistake. “Even if it does get reduced on appeal,” Barovick says, “it made the press and it’s going to increase awareness and will hopefully incentivize the hospitals to improve.”

By Aaron Kase

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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In Medical Malpractice Case, Jury Awards Record $58.6 Million

A Norwalk couple was awarded $58.6 million Wednesday, a record for a single incident of medical malpractice in Connecticut, in a case involving an obstetrician accused of waiting too long to perform a cesarean section and a boy who was permanently brain-damaged.

The jury at Superior Court in Waterbury sided with Domenic and Cathy D’Attilo, whose son Daniel, now 8, has had severe cerebral palsy since he was born on Feb. 2, 2003. He is fed through a tube, uses a wheelchair, is unable to eat, talk, or walk, and is incontinent.

“When my son was born, he was born not breathing, blue, limp,” said Cathy D’Attilo, the mother who sued her obstetrician, Dr. Richard Viscarello, and his practice, Stamford-based Maternal-Fetal Care PC. “He had seizures; he was on a ventilator. So, we knew something terrible had happened to Daniel.”

D’Attilo, her husband, and her son said in their lawsuit that Viscarello did not perform timely incisions to relieve the upper uterine area, delayed the cesarean section, didn’t create space for an atraumatic delivery, and caused a delay in the delivery that led to permanent brain damage.

“It was discovered that he had lost oxygen to his brain, and suffered a brain injury,” D’Attilo said. The defendant’s attorney, James Rosenblum of Rosenblum Newfield LLC in Stamford, said he will appeal if Judge Kevin Dubay allows the jury’s decision to stand. “He followed the rules, and the jury ignored that,” Rosenblum said of the doctor.

The jury awarded the D’Attilos $8.6 million in economic damages for past and future care of their son, which is the amount their attorneys requested and demonstrated in court. The jury also awarded $50 million in non-economic damages, which was at the jury’s discretion. Additionally, there’s a possibility of interest, which attorneys familiar with insurance law said adds up to millions more.

Daniel is Cathy D’Attilo’s only child. Her husband, Domenic, has a daughter from a previous marriage. The couple had tried for six years to have a baby before resorting to in-vitro fertilization.  “It was a long road just to get pregnant,” Cathy D’Attilo said.

Daniel is now a full-time job for his mother.  “Pretty much everything is dedicated and surrounded around Danny and his needs, and we do them with pleasure because he’s our son. We love him,” she said.

The now second-highest single-incident medical malpractice award in Connecticut also involved an obstetrician delivering a baby in 2003 at Stamford Hospital.

In 2008, a Stamford jury awarded $38.5 million in a lawsuit that found obstetrician Corinne de Cholnoky liable for waiting too long before she performed a cesarean section to deliver the second child in a pair of twins for Elizabeth Oram, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. The first child, Emma, was fine, but the second child, Spencer, had severe brain damage from the delivery, according to the Law Tribune.

In that case, the doctor named Stamford Hospital as an apportionment defendant. She alleged that the anesthesiologist and operating-room nurses slowed the cesarean delivery, according to the Law Tribune. That case is under appeal, said Rosenblum, who represents that defendant, too. Daniel D’Attilo was delivered on Feb. 2, 2003, and Oram’s child, Spencer, was delivered two months later on April 4, 2003.

But in the D’Attilos case, attorneys on both sides agree there is no connection to Stamford Hospital. The hospital declined to comment because it was not named as a defendant in the case.

The attorney for the D’Attilos, Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, said, “Stamford Hospital was a defendant in our case and we withdrew against Stamford Hospital because it appeared clear to everyone that they had not done anything wrong.”

“And in the de Cholnoky case, Stamford was in the case through the verdict, and the jury found in their favor,” Nastri said. “So, there is no criticism implicit or explicit in either case.”

Rosenblum said the theme in the two cases is that children with brain injuries are used to sway juries into awarding millions of dollars, a phenomenon that has been playing out in courtrooms for decades across the nation.

“The main parallel is that the jury goes ballistic,” Rosenblum said

By Matthew Sturdevant, Hartford Courant

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating a personal injury claim, medical malpractice claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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The Best Employment Lawyers in Connecticut and New York

Discrimination
Employment Discrimination Lawyers in New York and Connecticut
State and national laws protect employees from being subjected to discriminatory treatment and termination in the workplace because of the employee’s gender, race, age, national origin, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or disability. If you have reason to believe that you have experienced discrimination on the job, you should contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. right away. Mr. Maya has a national reputation for successfully handling employment discrimination matters. He can be contacted via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by dialing (203) 221-3100 in Connecticut or (212) 682-5700 in New York.

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These laws also protect employees from sexual harassment , a hostile work environment, and from being touched in an offensive manner in the workplace by supervisors, coworkers, or even clients. Employees have a right to stop discriminatory conduct in the workplace. If an employee tries to stop that conduct or notifies a supervisor that discriminatory conduct has occurred, that employee also has protection, under state and national laws, from retaliation by the supervisor or employer. In fact, any person who complains to his or her superior or employer has protection from the law against retaliation by his or her employer. If you feel you might be a victim of racial, gender, or sexual discrimination on the job, you should contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by dialing him at (203) 221-3100 or (212) 682-5700. Let our experience guide you and protect your legal rights at work.
Serving Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk and surrounding communities including Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Wilton & Weston; the greater Bridgeport area including Fairfield, Stratford, Monroe & Redding; the greater Danbury area including Ridgefield, Newtown & Bethel; and the communities surrounding Milford and New Haven. We also serve all of Westchester and New York Counties.

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‘Distracted Doctoring’ a Danger to Patients

A recent survey found that 55 percent of technicians monitoring bypass machines admitted to talking on cell phones during surgery. Half admitted to texting while in surgery.

A widely read editorial in Anesthesiology News by Peter J. Papadakos, MD, says health care workers today are “fixated on computer screens” and rarely receive information directly from their patients.

Papadakos referred to a study presented to the American Society of Anesthesiologists this year that said nurse anesthetists and residents were distracted by something other than patient care in 54 percent of cases. The study further cited surfing the Internet as the primary distraction. Additionally, a recent report in The New York Times cited polls of medical professionals in which a majority of respondents admitted using cellphones during critical procedures.

The Times cited a survey of medical technicians published this year in Perfusion, a journal about cardio-pulmonary bypass surgery, which found that 55 percent of technicians who monitor bypass machines acknowledged talking on cell phones during heart surgery and half said they had texted while in surgery.

“Why does anyone carry a cell phone into an operating room?” Patrick A. Salvi, managing equity partner of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. in Chicago, asked. “The patient on the table deserves the undivided attention of everyone in that room.”

Salvi, a medical malpractice attorney, expressed concern that health care workers’ increased reliance on electronic devices has become a distraction that has led to medical errors and injuries.

“We’re dismayed by reports that say doctors, nurses, technicians and others providing medical care are spending too much time focused on smartphones, computer screens and other devices when they should be paying attention to their patients.”

“We’re not against the use of electronic devices for delivery of medical records or even personal communication, but it is absolutely crucial that a focus on the patient is not dropped from the accepted standards of medical care,” said Salvi.

Anyone believing their injuries or the injury or death of a loved one in a hospital or another medical setting may have been caused by medical errors resulting from distraction should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately.

By: Larry Bodine

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a medical malpractice claims, medical negligence or injury, or a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

 

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