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Medical malpractice

June 23, 2010
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Trial Report

Jason Cole Sr., as Personal Representative of the Estates of Patricia Harris Cole and Baby Jason Cole Jr. v. Joseph M. Smith, M.D.

Wayne Circuit Court No. 89C01–0103-CT001

Injuries: Wrongful death of 34-week-old fetus

Date:
March 26, 2010

Judge or Jury Trial:
Jury trial

Judge: Hon. David Kolger

Disposition: $1.1 million

Plaintiff Attorneys:
Jason R. Reese and Stephen M. Wagner, Wagner Reese & Crossen

Defendant Attorneys:
Kirk Bagrowski and Louis Voelker, Eichhorn & Eichhorn

Insurance: Pro Assurance

Case Information: A Wayne County jury returned a verdict of $1.1 million in favor of the plaintiff and against a Richmond OB/GYN in this medical malpractice action. It was a 5-day jury trial before Judge David Kolger. The plaintiff, Jason Cole Sr., claimed that the defendant failed to comply with the applicable standard of medical care and that his negligence was a factor in causing the death of baby Jason Cole Jr. (then 34-weeks gestation).

The issues facing the jury were: (1) whether the defendant was negligent in ordering a “stress test” a/k/a OCT test in lieu of a non-stress test a/k/a a biophysical profile; (2) whether any act or omission by the defendant caused the death of the infant; and (3) whether baby Jason was born alive or stillborn.

The defendant argued that the OCT test met the standard of care, the alleged acts of the defendant did not cause the death of the infant, and the infant was stillborn, thus limiting any damages to emotional distress of the mother only.

The defense made no settlement offers.

Just before trial plaintiff offered to settle all claims for $100,000.

The case involved the death of a 34-week-old baby when the mom presented to Reid Hospital on Jan. 27, 2001, complaining of lower abdominal pain, lower back pain, and decreased fetal movement.

The experts agreed that pathology showed mom had a severe placental abruption which began before her presentation to the hospital. All of the experts and the three treating doctors agreed that the baby was alive, but in danger, when mom presented to the hospital.

The defendant did not review the entire chart which indicated “possible fetal compromise,” but instead testified that he obtained his information directly from the nurse, the mom, and other treating doctor. Despite the non-reassuring fetal heart rate tracings, he ordered the stress test instead of a non-stress test.

The defense expert, Dr. David Kiley, testified that there was no deviation in the standard of care by the defendant and that, even if there were, there was nothing that could have been done to change the outcome – the baby would have died anyway as a result of the severe placenta abruption that had existed long before mom presented to the hospital.

The jury deliberated for 2 hours, 15 minutes before rendering a verdict.

Even more tragic was the fact the baby’s mother was never able to see justice through the legal system. On July 14, 2006, approximately 5 1/2 years after her baby died, Patricia Harris Cole died in an unrelated car accident in Richmond. This made presentation of damages very difficult. “Trish” is survived by her husband, Jason Cole Sr., and her three other children.•

– Jason R. Reese
 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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