$1,001,600 – Medical Malpractice/Negligence
In a surprising response, a prominent medical group agreed to accept a 998 offer to compromise (settlement offer) in the amount of $1.016 million in a wrongful death/medical negligence case before the plaintiffs took any depositions or did any real discovery. “This is only the second time I’ve had this happen in 35 years of practice,” said Attorney Robert Vaage, who represented the heirs of the decedent in this case.
The claimants are the wife and children of a 46-year-old department store salesperson. In January of 2015, the decedent was being followed by a medical group cardiologist for a 7.5 cm sinus of Valsalva aneurysm. The medical group produced referral guidelines that required an urgent referral to a vascular surgeon for a large aortic aneurysm greater than 6.0 cm. The patient was not referred to a surgeon until late March of 2015. On April 1, 2015, prior to being scheduled to see a cardiac/vascular surgeon, the patient experienced a dissection. He died from these injuries on April 6th, 2015.
Plaintiff alleged that three months of monitoring a 7.5 cm aneurysm rather than urgently referring him to a cardiologist was below the standard of care and was contrary to the medical group’s own referral guidelines.
Wrongful death of a 46-year-old from an aortic dissection.
“This poor gentleman was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen, and the cardiologist was grossly negligent for not getting him in to see a surgeon urgently,” Vaage said. At the time the 998 offers were accepted, a motion to compel was on calendar for the medical group’s access logs to the decedent’s medical records, unredacted copies of guidelines concerning aortic aneurysms, and the criteria for the Committee of Cardiac Surgeons, along with a request for sanctions. The cardiologist’s deposition was scheduled for August.
This case is yet another example of how grossly unfair MICRA is, when a 46-year-old husband and father of two children dies, and the family can only collect $250,000 in general damages for loss of his care, comfort, and society. The medical group agreed to pay the maximum value of the case under MICRA before a motion to compel, request for sanctions, and motion to allege punitive damages pursuant to CCP §425.13 were heard.
The medical group insisted on confidentiality before it would agree to fund a tax-free annuity for the minor child, something that costs the medical group nothing more.