Wrongful Death -- Failure To Establish Airway During Biopsy -- Severe Brain Damage, Coma -- Award

NCLW Trial Reports 1996

Medical Malpractice

Wrongful Death -- Failure To Establish Airway During Biopsy -- Severe Brain Damage, Coma -- Award

Brief Statement of Claim: The plaintiffs sued for the wrongful death of a 75-year-old male with throat cancer who went into outpatient surgery for a throat biopsy. After putting him to sleep, the physicians failed to establish an airway in time to avoid brain damage and eventual death.

Principal Injuries (in order of severity): Death. Severe brain damage resulted in 18 days of coma before death. Unresponsive during that period except to pain.

Special Damages: $45,000 in medicals; $5,000 in funeral expenses

Tried or settled: Tried

County where tried or settled: Macon

Case Name and number: Mary E. Houston, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Donald Gordon Houston v. John P. Erdman, M.D., Gary Eugene Mauldin, M.D., and Sylva Anesthesiology, P.A. (Macon County Superior Court; 932 CvS 110)

Date Concluded: June 16, 1994

Name of Judge: Marcus L. Johnson

Amount: $725,000 (with interest and costs, $800,000)

Insurance Carrier: Medical Mutual of North Carolina and St. Pauls

Expert Witnesses and areas of expertise: Dr. Tom Mitros, Philadelphia, and Dr. Robert Mesrobian, Fairfax, Va., both anesthesiologists

Attorneys for plaintiff: Wade E. Byrd of Berry & Byrd, Fayetteville; Bill Colson, Miami, FL and Highlands, NC

Other Useful Info: There has never before been a verdict for the plaintiff in a malpractice case in Macon County. The largest prior verdict in the county in any case was $65,000.