Jury Awards $6 Million to Family of Deceased Medical Malpractice Victim

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 16, 2021

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A medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the family of a Pennsylvania woman who died of complications after heart surgery in 2007, ended this month with the jury awarding $6 million in damages. The suit was filed against York Township’s York Hospital and Cardiac Diagnostic Associates.

Sherry Ann Burkhardt, at the age of 53, suffered a heart attack and a blocked coronary artery. She was admitted to York Hospital and underwent surgery to unblock the artery. The surgery was successful, but the care that followed was allegedly negligent. It was the failure to followup on signs of internal bleeding with the necessary tests that the jury concluded led to her death, as reported in The York Dispatch.

According to the report, there were two associate physicians named in the lawsuit, the hospital’s third-year chief resident, Dr. Daniel Motter, and the on-call cardiologist, Dr. John Bobin. During the trial, the primary dispute was whether after Burkhardt’s vitals dropped post-surgery, one or both of these men were negligent in not calling for a test to address possible internal bleeding. The lawsuit maintained that Burkhardt would have lived had the internal bleeding been caught sooner.

Motter, the chief resident, claimed he had informed his superior, Bobin, of the symptoms, but that Motter did not advise him to take further action. Bobin remembers it differently and maintained that he would have ordered the test had Motter let him know all of the details. In the end, the jury found both guilty of medical negligence, as well as the hospital. There is further talk of an appeal.

Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

A $6 million settlement is on the higher end of your typical malpractice lawsuit (and malpractice-related cases tend to elicit higher settlement amounts than most lawsuits in general). Victims of medical malpractice, or their families, can recover damages for anything from physical pain and suffering, to mental and emotional suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium.

The average amount of damages awarded for each of these can vary depending on the details of the case, the doctor or hospital involved, and the state in which it took place. Many states have set limits on the amount of damages an injured patients may receive in a medical malpractice case. For example, pain and suffering for the same injury could be in the millions in Illinois, but only $250,000 or less in another state that limits damages for pain and suffering.

In the case of Sherry Ann Burkhardt, wrongful death comes into play, which is much more serious than other types of injury cases. In cases of wrongful death, families of the deceased often sue for damages to cover for not only their own pain and suffering but for medical and burial expenses, loss of income, emotional suffering, and loss of the deceased patient’s companionship and affection.

Read more about medical malpractice damages in How Much Is My Lawsuit Worth?

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