Pennsylvania Appellate Court Upholds $10M Wrongful Death Verdict And $10M Survival Claim Verdict

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania (“Pennsylvania Appellate Court”) upheld a Pennsylvania medical malpractice verdict in the total amount of $20 million ($10 million awarded for the wrongful death claim and $10 million awarded for the survical claim) in its opinion filed on September 30, 2021.

The Pennsylvania Appellate Court held: “the jury, as factfinder, determined the award amount and the trial court, who was present for trial, determined it was not against the weight of the evidence. Our jurisprudence has long emphasized that observing the testimony at trial and determining how much a relationship is worth to survivors is a determination best suited for the collective life experience and impartial community viewpoint of a jury. See Carlino, 208 A.3d at 118-19; Martin, 466 A.2d at 1025. This is the precise role the jury has fulfilled in this case. We therefore decline to disturb the trial court’s decision to deny Appellants’ request for a new trial or remittitur. We affirm the judgment.”

The Underlying Facts

Robert and Sharon Kimble married in 2003, divorced in 2012, and remarried later that same year. Sharon suffered from debilitating back pain for which she took numerous pain medications. Although she and her husband lived in Ohio, she sought treatment from the Laser Spine Institute and Glenn Rubenstein, M.D. (“LSI”) in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

On January 29, 2014, Sharon underwent outpatient spine surgery at their facility. Dr. Rubenstein was the anesthesiologist. The surgery began at 7:20 a.m. and ended approximately an hour and 20 minutes later, at approximately 8:40 a.m. Sharon was discharged two hours afterward, at 10:40 a.m. She and her husband then returned to a nearby hotel where they were staying. At 4:49 p.m. on the day of the surgery, Robert called the hotel’s front desk seeking emergency help because Sharon had stopped breathing. Emergency personnel transported Sharon to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

A toxicology report revealed the presence of multiple opioids and several central nervous system depressants (“CNSDs”), including Dilaudid, Flexeril, OxyContin, and Donnatal. The coroner concluded that the cause of death was the “synergistic” effect of the multiple CNSDs.

Robert filed the Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival claim medical malpractice lawsuit in January 2016. 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 8301, 8302. Following deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Robert and awarded $10 million in Wrongful Death Act damages and $10 million in Survival Act damages, for a total of $20 million. The jury apportioned liability between “Laser Spine Institute” and Dr. Rubenstein—65% and 35%, respectively. Robert then moved for delay damages and the court subsequently awarded $500,273.97 in delay damages. The defendants then appealed.

Source Kimble v. Laser Spine Institute, LLC, 2021 PA Super 196.

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to medical negligence in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2021 at 5:23 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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