News and Notable Verdicts

Defense Verdict - Medical Malpractice
Attorneys for Defendant: Jeffrey T. Davis and Bethany G. Parsons
Type of Action: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death
Court: Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri
Verdict: Defense verdict
Facts and Issues:

Plaintiff was the surviving spouse who claimed that her husband presented to his primary care physician for a periodic medication recheck, but had complaints of neck pain/upper chest pain that lasted about two minutes at a time that had been occurring over the last two weeks. His symptoms occurred at rest and were not associated with shortness of breath or diaphoresis. He also presented with a blood pressure reading of 148/88, which was moderately elevated. He had not had a history of hypertension. However, he did have a history of moderately elevated cholesterol and a family history of heart disease.

The physician’s assessment was atypical chest pain and wanted a blood pressure re-check at his office in one week. The patient did not return for the blood pressure check that, despite having also been sent a letter asking him to reschedule the appointment after he missed it. Plaintiff’s husband died in his sleep six weeks later. The autopsy showed significant occlusion of the left anterior descending artery and the medical examiner’s conclusion was cardiac arrhythmia due to myocardial ischemia caused by atherosclerosis including an acute plaque rupture of a coronary artery.

Plaintiff claimed the doctor was negligent in that he failed to make the correct diagnosis of unstable angina and the only reasonable medical treatment was to refer the patient to the emergency department or to a cardiologist for his acute coronary syndrome. Plaintiff claimed that, had he been treated emergently, he could have either had a coronary artery bypass graft or angioplasty which would have prevented the patient’s untimely death. The defendant disputed all of the claims and presented evidence that the patient died from a cardiac event unrelated to the prior neck pain.

The trial was the first to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield, an alternate venue selected for Covid-related reasons. Plaintiff asked for just over $4.5 million in economic damages, lost income, and household contributions. After five days of trial, the jury deliberated for 74 minutes and returned a Defendant’s verdict.