Posts tagged with "wrongful death"

Flood of Lawsuits Suggests New York Hospital a ‘Deathtrap’

Criticism of New York Hospital 

One of New York’s hospitals faces mounting criticism and risks losing federal and state healthcare funding because of widespread complaints of medical errors and shoddy practices.

In October, after a tragedy unfolded at Brookdale Hospital when a newborn died after he was admitted to the emergency room with a fever, an investigation by the city’s medical examiner determined that six month-old Amaan Ahmmad died because he was mistakenly given an adult dose of an antibiotic.

Since then, scrutiny of the hospital’s safety record exposed that Brookdale is defending a slew of lawsuits against it for medical malpractice. According to the New York Daily News, the once-respected Brooklyn hospital has over 100 live lawsuits against it for various acts of substandard care. A state department of health investigation uncovered multiple violations ranging from untested smoke detectors to misidentified blood samples to unsafe conditions for preventing airborne infections.

And a year ago, the hospital’s CEO David Rosen stepped down amid corruption allegations. He was later tried and convicted of trying to bribe three state politicians in return for beneficial treatment of the hospital. State politicians are now calling for changes to the leadership and management of the hospital.

Lawsuits Against the Hospital

On the legal front, some victims of the hospital’s alleged negligence will have a more difficult road to getting justice, thanks to a new state law.

The same month that baby Amaan died, the state legislature passed a tort reform statute that forces parents who sue over their newborn’s birth-related neurological injuries to put any winnings from such a lawsuit into a state fund.

Two lawsuits against Brookdale Hospital – both ending in patient deaths – hint at some of the underlying problems at the beleaguered medical center.

The First Case

In one case, an elderly patient developed bedsores that went untreated by doctors and nurses until she died shortly after.

Nora Stephens, a 92 year-old grandmother who moved to New York after a tough life of sharecropping in Virginia, entered the hospital with her “skin intact,” but developed pressure ulcers on her feet that worsened so quickly to Stage IV ulcers that she developed an infection and gangrene on both feet. Before she could have her feet amputated, she died.

“They didn’t do very basic things to take care of an elderly person not able to get out of bed,” such as turning her every two hours to make sure she did not develop ulcers, said Matthew Gammons, an attorney for Stephens’ relatives.

The Second Case

In a second case, Gammons alleges the hospital’s delayed treatment caused the death of a teenager who arrived at the emergency room with a head injury.

Eighteen year-old Corey Ray appeared “awake, oriented and agitated” when he was brought to the hospital by EMTs after being beaten up at a nearby park.

According to Gammons, the hospital breached normal practices by waiting two and a half hours to give the injured boy a CT scan, then delayed getting him a neurosurgeon for another five and a half hours. In addition to the delay, the neurosurgeon missed two other areas of bleeding in the boy’s brain and a post-operative CT scan wasn’t done until 10 hours after surgery, the lawsuit claims.

“By the time they read the scans, he had a massive hemorrhage in the back of his brain. They missed the ball. … To me, it epitomizes the lack of thoroughness of this hospital,” said Gammons.

He added that he will be looking into whether understaffing and lack of available specialists played a role in the two tragedies.

‘Radical’ New law

The number of lawsuits against a hospital may only represent a fraction of actual errors that take place.

“There may be hundreds of more legitimate cases that have not been brought and hospitals are never accountable for in terms of negligence,” said Joanne Doroshow, an attorney and consumer advocate.

It can be difficult for patients to find out about the history of a hospital, although consumers can look online to check if an individual doctor has a malpractice or disciplinary record, she added.

Recently, many hospitals say they have no money to improve patient care and have moved to cut back on patients’ legal rights, according to Doroshow. For example, for the youngest victims of medical errors in New York, a new law will make their families jump through another hoop to get future medical bills paid. The law requires that money damages awarded for future medical costs of babies who are injured during birth because of medical error go into the state fund. Doroshow criticized it as “a radical piece of legislation that severely cuts back on liability of hospitals when an injury to a newborn is birth-related.”

Besides forcing families who fight and win the long legal battle for their loved ones to then “beg” for money from the state to cover their child’s medical expenses, the new law is bad for patient safety because it takes away a financial incentive for hospitals to feel accountable, she said.

By: Sylvia Hsieh

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 claim, hospital negligence, or 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

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.”

The Court’s Considerations

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.”

Medical Malpractice in New York

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 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.

Family Awarded $13 Million for Tragic Day at the Pool

Across the US, all year round, millions of people swim for fun and recreation in backyard pools, public pools, private clubs, and beaches, ponds, and lakes. It’s not all fun and games, though. About 10 people drown each day. Usually, two of the victims are 14 years old or younger. In fact, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between 1 and 14 years old.

Case Background

Take Soo Hyeon Park, for example. At 13 years old, he and his family (a sister and his parents) were visiting from South Korea in July 2008; they were staying with friends in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The family, together with their friends and their teenage children, visited Graydon Pool, a popular local “swimming hole” that’s owned and operated by the Village of Ridgewood.  It’s spring-fed, about three acres big, has beach areas and a “deep water” area that’s at least 12 feet deep. Even the water, though clean, looks like water you’d see at the beach, not the crystal clear water you see at the local YMCA, for example.

Park and the other teenaged boys went swimming in the deep area. For some reason, Park began struggling to stay afloat and eventually went underwater. One of his friends tried to rescue him but couldn’t. Park drowned.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In the parents’ wrongful death lawsuit against the Village, they claimed it provided negligent supervision at the pool and that the lifeguards were negligent in their response to Park’s situation. The Village didn’t stand still, either. It filed a lawsuit against Park’s parents, as well as his teenaged friends and their parents, claiming they were negligent and responsible for Park’s death.

Ultimately, the Village’s claims were thrown out of court and, after nearly two years of legal wrangling and a month-long trial, a jury awarded $10 million to Park’s family. The jurors agreed that there was inadequate supervision at the pool. None of the nine or more lifeguards saw Park while he was struggling to stay above water. After Park’s mother alerted the lifeguards and the pool manager, the manager ordered the lifeguards to search for Park around the pool, not inside the pool. Lifeguards searched the parking lot for Park. Park was not removed from the water until 40 minutes after the manager and lifeguards were alerted

Wrongful death lawsuits have nothing to do with money. People who lose loved ones certainly know that no amount of money can bring their loved ones back. These suits are about making sure the people responsible for the deaths are held accountable. They’re also about making sure the same tragedy doesn’t happen again.

By David Baarlaer

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 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

The Best Employment Lawyers in Connecticut and New York

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.

Laws Protect Employees from Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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.