Estate Wins Verdict in Wrongful Death Med Mal Case
Pennsylvania Law Weekly, Monday, December 22, 2003
Hanf v. Medical Associates of Monroe County
Date of Verdict: October 6, 2003.
Court and Case Number: C.P. Monroe, No, 198 CV 2001.
Judge: Peter O'Brien
Type of Action: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Action.
Plaintiff's Attorney: Joseph A. Lach, Hourigan, Kluger&Quinn, Kingston
Defense Attorney: Eugene P. Feeney, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires&Newby, Scranton.
Plaintiff's Expert: Kenneth Lewis, M.D., internal medicine, Landenberg.
Defense Expert: N/A.
Comments: A Monroe County jury has awarded a $100,000 verdict to the estate of a 68-year-old man who died of cardio respiratory arrest while in the care of the defendant hospital.
The decedent, George Hanf, entered Pocono Medical Center on May 30, 1999, with complaints of shortness of breath and a history of respiratory problems, according to plaintiff's counsel. While in the hospital, lab work showed evidence of internal bleeding, most likely gastrointestinal in nature. After several days of abnormally low lab work, an endoscopic procedure was performed that identified a probable source of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, plaintiff's counsel said. Nevertheless, counsel asserted, definitive therapy was not attempted and the lab work continued to show evidence of ongoing bleeding.
Hanf eventually aspirated blood, which had accumulated in large quantities in the stomach, causing cardio respiratory arrest and death on June 10, 1999. The decedent's wife passed away shortly after the commencement of this lawsuit, and the claim was pursued by Hanf's daughters. There were no economic damages presented to the jury.
The plaintiff's expert, Kenneth Lewis, M.D., testified that physicians in the defendant's medical group were on notice for several days of the abnormally low blood work, as well as the accumulation of large quantities of blood in the decedent's stomach. Plaintiff's counsel argued that the defendants failed to attempt treatment of the site of bleeding or to take routine preventive measures to evacuate blood so as to prevent the possibility of aspiration.
Defense counsel could not be reached for comment.
Following a 4-day trial, and two and a half hours of deliberation, the 12-person jury returned a verdict of $100,000 in favor of Hanf's estate.