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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Malpractice trial involving death of man opens today

Jan. 8, 2003

By Fred Ney
Staff Writer

Trial is scheduled to begin this morning in the case of a 72-year-old Wilkes-Barre man whose family contends his death was caused by medical malpractice while he was a patient in Wilkes-Barre Mercy Hospital under the care of doctors Esther McKenzie and Walter J. Boris.

Plaintiff in the case is Dorothy Thornton, administratrix of the estate of her late husband, Frank E. Thornton. The couple's five adult children are also plaintiffs in the case.

Thorntons are being represented by Attorney Joseph Quinn.
Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Tuesday presided over jury selection.

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski will preside at the trial that he scheduled to commence this morning at 8:15 a.m. provided that jury selection was completed on Tuesday.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Mercy Hospital and its parent company, Mercy Health Partners.

According to the complaint, Frank Thornton on Aug. 17, 2000, was admitted to Mercy Hospital for elective surgery.

Thornton had undergone a heart valve replaceme nt in March 2000, and subsequent follow-up treatment detected a "nodule" on his left lung that doctors said required surgery.

Thornton was taken into an operating room and was given anesthesia preparatory to the operation. However, his condition worsened while he was unconscious and it was determined to cancel the operation.

Thornton's condition required him to remain hospitalized at Mercy until his family, on Sept. 6, 2000, requested that he be transferred to Hershey Medical Center.

He died on Sept. 18, 2000. Following an autopsy, it was determined that Thornton died from "improper ventilation," or suffocation, caused by "medical misadventure."

"Frank E. Thornton's irreversible brain damage and subsequent death was preventable had the defendants properly screened him prior to surgery and or timely and appropriately responded to the signs and symptoms he was exhibiting," the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit also casts doubt on the medical credentials of Dr. McKenzie and accuses Mercy Hospital of failing to properly nvestigate her background before hiring her. The suit seeks damages in excess of $150,000.

In filing answers to the lawsuit's allegations, doctors McKenzie and Boris and Mercy Hospital all deny any wrongdoing in the treatment of Thornton.

McKenzie is being represented by attorneys J. Scott Kramer and Dana J. Ash, from Philadelphia. Boris is represented by attorneys George Nace 3d and Tara Reid, Allentown.

Mercy Hospital is represented by attorneys John Q. Durkin of Scranton.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


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