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$700,000 Jury Verdict in Failure to Diagnose Case

What happened: We represented the estate of a 56-year-old retired FBI agent who reported to his family doctor with a 3-day history of chest pains radiating into his jaw together with intermittent visual disturbance. His family physician claimed that he referred plaintiff's decedent to the emergency room with a provisional diagnosis of impending vascular accident. The emergency room physician diagnosed our client as having a sore throat and denied receiving a report from the family physician of an impending vascular accident. The emergency room physician released the plaintiff from the emergency room with an appointment with an ENT doctor and conducted no diagnostic test. Four days later, our client died at his home of an dissecting aortic aneurysm.  The autopsy revealed that the dissection was between 3 and 6 days old.

Legal strategy: Plaintiff's counsel immediately retained the chief of cardio-thoracic surgery at Yale Medical School to support his case.  Because of the conflicting testimony of the family practice doctor and the emergency room doctor, a lawsuit was filed against each of them and they were allowed to "point the finger" at each other.

Results: Case was tried to a jury in Suffolk Circuit Court who returned a $700,000.00 verdict against the emergency room physician.


Court/Date: Suffolk Circuit Court 1999


Staff: James C. Lewis, Attorney