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Untreated Arterial Condition Turned Fatal

Verdict: $5,700,000


FACTS & ALLEGATIONS

A woman developed recurrent severe headaches. She was evaluated by several internists, Drs. James Chin, Krishna Sai Perumareddi and Veronique Toyloy, but her headaches persisted.

 

On June 29, 2005, the woman presented herself to Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. She reported that her headaches had not subsided. She was admitted to the hospital, and Chin oversaw her treatment. An otolaryngologist opined that her headaches were a result of temporal arthritis: inflammation of the arteries that supply the temporal nerve. The doctor performed a calculation of the sedimentation rate of the woman’s red blood cells. Such a test typically shows inflammation that may suggest an infection, and the test revealed a significant degree of inflammation. Another otolaryngologist advised that the woman would have to be evaluated by a rheumatologist, and he also recommended the administration of steroidal medication: prednisone.

Chin did not immediately consult a rheumatologist. On July 2, 2005, the woman received her first dose of prednisone. A second was administered on July 3, 2005, but the drug was not administered on the next day, July 4. During that day, Perumareddi assumed control of the woman’s treatment.

On July 5, 2005, the woman was evaluated by a rheumatologist. During the afternoon of July 5, doctors determined that the woman was suffering adult respiratory distress syndrome. She received another dose of prednisone, but her condition deteriorated. She died on July 8, 2005. The woman’s widower and the plaintiff in this case claimed that his wife’s death was a result of a rapid depletion of her body’s immunity. He contended that her immunity would have been sufficiently boosted by consistent administration of prednisone.

The plaintiff, acting individually and as the administrator of his wife’s estate, sued Chin, Perumareddi, Toyloy, their employer – the Central Brooklyn Medical Group, PC; Long Island College Hospital and several of its doctors: Olga Badern, Subasini Dash, Harishchandra Mahaseth, Douglas Sepkowitz, Michael Singer and Kala Sury. The plaintiffs alleged that the doctors failed to properly treat the woman’s condition; that the failures constituted malpractice; that Central Brooklyn Medical Group was vicariously liable for the action of Chin, Perumareddi, and Toyloy, and that Long Island College Hospital was vicariously liable for the remaining doctors’ actions.

Plaintiffs’ counsel ultimately discontinued the claims against the doctors who were employed by Long Island College Hospital and the plaintiffs and the hospital subsequently negotiated a pretrial settlement, in which the hospital’s insurer agreed to pay $500,000. The matter proceeded to a trial against Central Brooklyn Medical Group, Chin, Perumareddi and Toyloy, but plaintiffs’ counsel quickly discontinued against Toyloy.

The plaintiffs’ expert pathologist opined that the woman suffered temporal arthritis. The plaintiffs’ expert rheumatologist opined that the condition rapidly depleted the woman’s immunity, and he contended that her death was a result of her resultant weakened condition.

 

INJURIES/DAMAGES

Plaintiffs’ counsel claimed that the woman suffered temporal arthritis. He contended that the condition rapidly depleted her immunity, that it caused adult respiratory distress syndrome and that it ultimately led to the fatal failure of several of her organs.

The woman, 35, died on July 8, 2005. She was survived by her husband and 9- and 6-year-old daughters. Her estate sought recovery of wrongful-death damages that included $12,000 for the cost of her funeral, about $5 million for her past and future lost earnings, and $5 million for about 10 days of conscious pain and suffering. The parties stipulated that the funeral’s cost would be a post-verdict award.

The widower initially presented a derivative claim, but his claim was ultimately dismissed.

 

RESULT

The jury determined that the estate’s damages totaled $5.72 million, and Judge Lawrence Knipel added the stipulated damages of $12,000. After the addition of the money that was obtained via pretrial settlement, the estate’s recovery totaled $6,232,000.