On March 2, 2017, a federal judge in South Dakota entered a $13.5 million judgment against a 78-year-old former South Dakota heart surgeon in a case involving a 21-year-old heart patient on whom the defendant performed heart surgery in 2010 that resulted in profound neurological injuries that the plaintiff alleged were due to the heart surgeon’s medical negligence in performing the surgery.
Other defendants named in the plaintiff’s South Dakota medical malpractice lawsuit included the hospital where the surgery took place but the defendant hospital was dismissed from the South Dakota medical malpractice lawsuit when it was established that the defendant heart surgeon was neither its employee nor acting as its agent when he performed the allegedly negligent heart surgery on the young patient.
The plaintiff’s heart surgery was performed on October 14, 2010 during which emboli entered his bloodstream and caused his catastrophic injuries. The defendant former heart surgeon represented himself (pro se) in the South Dakota medical malpractice lawsuit and had failed to timely respond to the plaintiff’s claims. As a result of the defendant’s failure to file a timely response, the federal judge entered the $13.5 million medical malpractice judgment against him.
The defendant heart surgeon had previously performed heart surgery (a Ross procedure) on the plaintiff in 2006.
Will The Plaintiff Be Able To Collect The $13.5 Million Judgment?
Whether the plaintiff will be able to collect the $13.5 million medical malpractice judgment is questionable. The fact that the defendant was representing himself pro se in the South Dakota medical malpractice lawsuit is a strong indicator that he did not have medical malpractice insurance coverage for the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims against him.
It is reported that the defendant former heart surgeon has many other pending financial obligations that he has failed to satisfy. The former heart surgeon owes $109,516.00 to his ex-wife as a result of a judgment she obtained against him in 2013 (the divorce was finalized two months after the plaintiff’s heart surgery); he owes $50,710.00 to a physicians group that did not renew his contract in 2008 (he had sued the physicians group for age discrimination but lost that lawsuit): he owes $24,583.00 to Ford Motor Credit Company; and, he owes smaller amounts to other creditors.
In November 2016, a law firm that had represented the former heart surgeon in two cases filed a lawsuit against him, claiming that the former heart surgeon owes it $51,648.00 in legal fees. Another pending lawsuit against the former heart surgeon (and his ex-wife) involves a foreclosure action on a second mortgage.
The former heart surgeon had lost his operating room privileges in 2012 at the hospital where the plaintiff had his heart surgery. The South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners reportedly reprimanded and restricted the former heart surgeon from practicing medicine in 2015, indicating in March 2016 that it would grant him a conditional medical license if he fulfilled certain conditions. However, the Board’s website presently lists the former heart surgeon’s medical license as inactive.
If you or a family member suffered substantial harm due to medical negligence in South Dakota, you should promptly find a South Dakota medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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