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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Settlement discussions underway in wrongful death lawsuit

Jan. 11, 2003

By Fred Ney
Staff Writer

The wrongful death trial of the late Frank Thornton recessed abruptly Friday morning when lawyers for the defense indicated they wanted to enter into "serious" settlement discussions over the weekend.

Thornton died in September 2000, after he suffered oxygen deprivation to the brain a month earlier allegedly caused by a misplaced breathing ventilator tube.

Attorney Joseph Quinn is representing Thornton's widow, Dorothy, and his adult children in a lawsuit that names Dr. Esther McKenzie, Dr. Walter Boris and Mercy Hospital as defendants.

McKenzie was the anesthesiologist who was responsible for placing the ventilator tube into Thornton's trachea as part of the process of administering anesthesia.

Thornton was due to have surgery to take a biopsy of, or possibly remove, a malignant lesion from his left lung.

The surgery was canceled when Thornton's condition worsened. The suit alleges that poor medical care resulted in the ventilator tube being placed in the victim's esophagus instead of his trachea.

The suit also alleges that Boris, the surgeon, failed to intervene to assist Thornton and that the hospital conspired to cover up the incident.

McKenzie has maintained she performed her job properly. Boris has insisted that he's not at fault because he's a surgeon and no surgery was performed on Thornton and that there are clear-cut responsibilities in an operating room for both anesthesiologists and surgeons.

Quinn was in his third day of trial and was pressing his case when defense counsel asked for a recess to facilitate settlement talks.

Part of the plaintiff's claims was that Dr. McKenzie was improperly credentialed to work at Mercy Hospital and that Mercy failed to enforce written policies regarding hiring and reporting events in which patients are injured during medical procedures.

Quinn also announced Friday that there will be a joint press conference held Monday at 8:15 a.m. at the Courthouse regarding the trial and related issues.

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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