Wrongful Death case settles after post-trial interest drives award to over $2 million.

Two doctors found liable for the wrongful death of a 53-year-old wife and mother of four have abandoned their post-trial appeal, agreeing to pay several hundred thousand dollars more than the jury awarded to avoid mounting Court-imposed post-trial interest damages.

The resolution follows a June 2023 trial that resulted in a verdict of $1,650,000, with $650,000 awarded in survival damages, and an additional $1 million in wrongful death damages. The case was tried by Eric G. Zajac of Zajac & Padilla, LLC. The jury’s decision was unanimous.

The Firm represented the estate of a woman who went to the hospital experiencing shortness of breath unlike anything she had ever experienced before. Although she had never been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), she was nevertheless diagnosed as suffering from an “exacerbation of COPD.” The emergency room doctor, who was not sued, also identified pulmonary embolism (PE) as a differential diagnosis. One of the two Defendants became her attending physician. He dismissed the notion that his patient was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, though he did ask for a consultation from a pulmonologist, who was the second Defendant. The pulmonologist Defendant also dismissed any notion that the woman was suffering from a pulmonary embolism. Neither Defendant ordered simple inexpensive tests that would have revealed that in fact, the patient was suffering from one or more deep venous thromboses (DVTs), clots in her legs that were positioned to result in a fatal pulmonary embolism, if left undiagnosed and untreated.

To make matters worse, the attending physician did not follow his own discharge criteria before discharging his patient from the hospital. One of his discharge criteria was the ability of the patient to walk independently on her own without difficulty up and down the hallway. To the contrary of meeting this criterion, only hours before discharge, a respiratory therapist had to be called emergently to the hospital bed side in the middle of the night because the patient became severely short of breath simply getting up to use the restroom. She was discharged, anyway.

Highly respected expert witnesses testified that the early morning need to call respiratory therapy was a warning that the patient was experiencing a pulmonary embolism.

Within a few hours of being discharged from the hospital, while her husband was at the drugstore filling her prescriptions, the patient collapsed after ascending a steep set of stairs to get into her house. One of her children, who had just come home from school, called 9-1-1. She was resuscitated by City of Philadelphia EMTs and taken to Temple University Hospital. Testing there confirmed the presence of multiple pulmonary emboli and multiple DVTs. Unfortunately, at that point the patient was brain dead. After six long days,her husband had to make the difficult decision to withdraw life support. She was 53 years old.

No settlement offers were made before or during trial.