Date of Verdict:
July 21, 2017.
Court and Case No.:
C.P. Philadelphia No. 141204016.
Type of Action:
Lane Jubb, The Beasley Firm, Philadelphia.
Daniel Ryan and Michael Pitt, O’Brien and Ryan, Plymouth Meeting.
Dr. Denise Gee, surgery expert, Boston, Massachusetts; Dr. Mark Cowan, critical care, Crofton, Maryland.
Dr. Paul Kinniry, pulmonology; Dr. David Wernsing, bariatric surgery, Philadelphia.
A Philadelphia jury has handed up an award of $5 million to the family of a woman who died after she was allegedly prematurely discharged from the Albert Einstein Medical Center following a gallbladder removal surgery.
The jury awarded the damages to the family of Janette Lambert on July 21 in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Mary Colins’ courtroom, finding the hospital 90 percent liable for her death and her treating doctor 10 percent liable. The damages included $4.6 million for wrongful death and $400,000 under the Pennsylvania Survival Act.
The Beasley Firm’s Lane Jubb Jr. tried the case for the plaintiffs. According to Jubb, the case came down to a miscommunication between the doctors and the residents.
“It’s a good reminder that, when you’re in a teaching facility, residents are going to be held to the same standard as the attending physician, and the attending physician needs to make sure the residents are on the same page,” Jubb said.
Daniel Ryan of O’Brien & Ryan represented Einstein Medical Center and defendant Dr. Mark J. Kaplan. Ryan did not return a call seeking comment.
According to court papers, Kaplan performed a gallbladder removal surgery on Lambert on July 22, 2014, and Lambert received a physical therapy session the same day. Although the therapist recommended she not be discharged due to severe pain, she was eventually discharged the same day as the surgery, court papers said.
Lambert’s pain progressed, and she returned to the hospital two days later, where it was determined that she suffered a bile leak, which is a potential complication of a gallbladder removal surgery, court papers said.
A drain was placed, but Lambert continued to have severe pain. Although Lambert had sickle cell anemia, doctors did not order a hematology consult, court papers said. On July 26, she coded, was resuscitated and taken to an intensive care unit for treatment, court papers said. She died the next day.
Lambert’s daughter and the administrator of her estate, Nicohol Ivey, contended in her pretrial memo that Lambert suffered a sickle cell attack after her initial discharge, which, combined with the bile peritonitis, caused unrelenting pain, multiple organ failure and death.
The memo also alleged the hospital residents did not have a uniform understanding about discharging, and that Kaplan attributed the premature discharge to misinformation he was provided by residents.
The memo further said there had not been consistent testimony regarding the discharge.
“Worse yet, either the AEMC staff were unaware of Ms. Lambert’s alarming condition revealed during physical therapy or, alternatively, the AEMC staff just disregarded it altogether,” the memo said.
The memo further noted Lambert was 49, and a single mother of three, who had plans to get married.
Kaplan and the hospital, in their pretrial memo, contended that Lambert’s treatment was appropriate, that extensive pre-existing medical problems contributed to her death, and that they properly diagnosed and treated the bile leak following the surgery.
The trial lasted five days.
— Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly •