Phila. med mal, wrongful death case ends in $19.5 million plaintiffs' verdict

By Jon Campisi | Mar 1, 2013

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury recently awarded $19.5 million to the widower

of a woman who died as a result of medical malpractice by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and one of its surgeons.

Jurors agreed with plaintiff George Pomroy that the death of his wife, Mariann Pomroy, which came nearly two years after a botched colon surgery, was due to the negligence of the hospital and general surgeon Ernest F. Rosato, who has since passed away himself.

Court records show that the plaintiff’s verdict was handed down on Feb. 24 following about a week of testimony in the wrongful death case.

Attorney Laura A. Feldman, of the Philadelphia firm Feldman & Pinto, first filed suit on behalf of George Pomroy back in late April 2010.

An amended complaint was filed in mid June the following year, the docket sheet shows.

In his lawsuit, Pomroy, of Bucks County, claimed that the negligence on the part of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Rosato led to his wife’s death in the summer of 2010.

According to the complaint, Mariann Pomroy was first admitted to HUP on Oct. 22, 2008, to have a mass removed from her colon.

At the time of her surgery, Mariann had several health problems, including renal disease, chronic back pain and a history of multiple abdominal surgeries, the record shows.

Rosato, in his report of the operation, subsequently noted that the woman’s surgery was more difficult than originally anticipated because of extensive adhesions from prior surgical procedures.

Following her surgery, Mariann became hypotensive, had decreased urine output, experienced increased abdominal pain, had elevated blood potassium and suffered from sinus tachycardia, the complaint stated.

She also had an elevated body temperature and at times was lethargic, confused and disoriented.

Mariann soon had to be transferred to intensive care, where her health problems persisted.

The complaint asserted that Mariann’s post-operative condition became so precarious that she had to undergo a second, emergency surgery by a different doctor on Nov. 2, 2008 for intra-abdominal sepsis and gastrointestinal bleeding.

That emergency surgery revealed that the patient’s right colon and terminal ileum had an area of separation with exposed bowel mucosa, the lawsuit showed.

Because of the edema and swelling of Mariann’s bowel, her abdominal cavity could not be closed until Dec. 8, 2008, at which time she underwent an additional surgery for abdominal closure.

Marianna ended up having to be hospitalized until late March 2009, at which point she was finally stable enough to be transferred to a long-term care facility, the record shows.

It was during this time that she underwent numerous other surgeries that included bowel resection, abdominal washouts, debridements and surgical revisions.

Marianna had also suffered a right occipital infarct and seizure, acute renal failure, and ventilation dependent respiratory failure, all of which caused her severe and permanent disabilities, the plaintiff argued in his suit.

Marianna eventually passed away on Aug. 12, 2010.

Rosato and the hospital were both accused of wrongful death and negligence, and HUP was additionally accused of corporate negligence.

The court docket shows that Rosato, the doctor and co-defendant in the case, died on Jan. 6 of last year.

The defendants had been accused of failing to perform a proper preoperative workup on Mariann Pomroy; failing to obtain appropriate consultations prior to surgery; failing to appreciate the complexity of the surgery; failing to properly close the anastomosis; allowing an inexperienced and/or incompetent individual to perform the operation; failing to properly and timely recognize, diagnose and repair the breach of the bowel that resulted in follow-up surgeries; failing to perform and conduct proper and timely tests to accurately detect and treat the cause of the deteriorating post-operative conditions; and other acts of negligence.

The trial commenced on Feb. 18, although it was originally scheduled to be begin back in August 2012.

The case was presided over by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Colins.

Attorney Charles A. Fitzpatrick, III, of the Philadelphia firm Rawle & Henderson, represented the defendants in the case.

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