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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.

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, PC is led by Attorney Joseph Quinn, one of the Top 100 trial lawyers in the nation. Seventeen lawyers strong, HKQ Law represents Personal Injury, Business Law and Personal Law clients in Lackawanna, Luzerne and surrounding northeastern PA counties for more than half a century. HKQ Law has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history, totaling over a half billion dollars on behalf of injured clients, and was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania, 2015.

The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Reports, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



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