On March 10, 2016, shortly after dismissing the Baltimore medical malpractice jury that had just returned its verdict in the amount of $3.8 million in favor of the widow of a man who died as a result of the alleged gross negligence of the paramedics whom the plaintiff alleged did not take her husband’s complaint of chest pain seriously, threw out the jury’s verdict, finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove gross negligence. The plaintiff’s attorneys have vowed to appeal the trial judge’s granting the defendants judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
The plaintiff’s husband had chest pain on March 2, 2011, resulting in the plaintiff calling 911. The Baltimore City paramedics arrived at the plaintiff’s home but did not believe that the plaintiff’s husband had chest pain and did not consider that he was having a heart attack, according to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit.
The plaintiff alleged that the two defendant Baltimore City paramedics failed to perform necessary tests or start an IV in light of the man’s complaint of chest pain, and they required him to walk to the paramedic unit instead of using a stretcher. The plaintiff further alleged that the paramedics failed to assist her husband into the paramedic unit, requiring him to climb in on his own. On the way to the hospital, the paramedics failed to communicate with the hospital and once at the hospital, the plaintiff alleged that the paramedics did not act with appropriate urgency and left her husband in a wheelchair in the hallway, where he subsequently suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
The plaintiff testified during the trial that an emergency room nurse at the hospital told her that they were unaware that her husband was a chest pain patient that would have required that the hospital employ its chest pain protocols, but instead assumed that her husband’s condition was not serious because he was not lying on a stretcher but rather he was seated in a wheelchair.
The defendant paramedics alleged that the plaintiff’s husband did not complain of chest pain, that he had refused to be placed on a stretcher, and that he insisted that he walk to the paramedic unit. The defendants did not obtain a signed release from the man regarding his refusal to be placed on a stretcher, as required by fire department protocols. The defendants’ actions were investigated and the paramedics were disciplined, according to reports, but the investigation and the results were neither discoverable nor admissible into evidence during the Baltimore medical malpractice trial.
The Baltimore medical malpractice trial lasted seven days and the jury deliberated for more than a day before it reached its verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Despite the testimony of a cardiologist with advanced life support training and the testimony of an emergency room physician that the defendant paramedics’ actions amounted to a wanton disregard for the life of the man, the trial judge held that the plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of proof with regard to the alleged gross negligence of the defendants and therefore entered judgment in favor of the defendants.
Source: The Daily Record, March 10, 2016. The Estate of Kerry R. Butler, Jr., et al. v. Joseph Stracke, et al., Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 24C14001249.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in Baltimore or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer (Maryland medical malpractice lawyer) or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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