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A Delaware County jury awarded $1.195 million Friday to the estate and mother of a 25-year-old Brookhaven man who died of complications from dehydration after a week’s stay in the hospital. A. Roy DeCaro represented the estate and Margaret Collom, who took her mentally ill son to Crozer-Chester Medical Center after he went into a catatonic trance and did not eat or drink for three days in April 2000. The plaintiffs argued in court papers that Collom’s son, Chilson “Buddy” Collom III, would have survived his stay at Crozer-Chester had his attending doctor, Bernard Zoranski, tested his patient’s electrolyte levels and kept him properly hydrated by administering fluids intravenously. During the weeklong trial in Collom v. Crozer-Chester Medical Center, DeCaro argued to the jury that had Zoranski properly monitored Buddy and corrected his electrolyte imbalance, Buddy would still be alive, DeCaro said. After about seven hours of deliberations, the 12-member jury concluded that Zoranski’s negligence was a factual cause of Buddy’s death. They ordered Zoranski to pay $75,000 to Margaret Collom for negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a total of $1.12 million to Buddy’s estate under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death and survivor statutes. Common Pleas Judge Kathrynann W. Durham presided. The jurors cleared Crozer-Chester Medical Center of any liability in the case, finding Zoranski was not an ostensible agent of the hospital, according to the jury’s verdict sheet. John P. Shea of Kent & McBride, who represented Zoranski, and Steven W. Day Jr. of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, who represented the hospital, did not return calls for comment yesterday. DeCaro said the plaintiffs filed for about $101,000 in delay damages Monday. Buddy, who was diagnosed as mentally retarded, had a history of schizophrenia and catatonia, a condition causing a person to become frozen in a stupor. When Buddy fell into such a state in April 2000 and didn’t eat or drink for several days, his mother took him to the emergency room at Crozer-Chester, according to court documents. DeCaro noted that when Buddy had previously been hospitalized for not eating or drinking, he was fed intravenously and was able to stay hydrated and receive the necessary nutrition this way. Testing on Buddy’s third day in the hospital showed his electrolyte levels to be severely imbalanced, including an elevated amount of sodium and a low level of potassium in his system, according to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum. The plaintiffs claimed that Zoranski should have made sure such testing was repeated daily. The testing wasn’t done again until Buddy suddenly had a heart attack on May 3, 2000, according to the memorandum. Buddy died from the heart attack. In Zoranski’s pretrial memorandum, his lawyer said Buddy was being monitored during his time in the hospital and that “medical personnel were attempting to get Mr. Collom to take his medications and also to consume fluids and food.” Hospital staff also tried to administer the fluids by starting an intravenous line, according to the memorandum. “Although personnel had difficulty in getting Mr. Collom to consistently eat, drink and take his medications, they were successful at times, and at no instant was Mr. Collom’s medical condition in a dire state,” Shea wrote. The heart attack on May 3 was without warning, Shea explained. Buddy had never worked because of his severe mental problems so the plaintiffs did not ask for any economic damages for lost wages or potential lost wages, DeCaro said. They also didn’t present any evidence of medical bill costs or funeral expenses, DeCaro said. “This case shows that if you have the right facts, even in the counties you’ll still get the appropriate damages” in medical malpractice cases, said DeCaro, an attorney at Raynes McCarty. He worked on the case with an associate, Michael W. McGuckin.

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