LANCASTER – A Reading woman has initiated legal action versus a drug treatment facility and several medical personnel, claiming their negligence led to the untimely death of her husband.

Deana Cortez (acting as administratrix of the estate of her late husband, Arsenio L. Cortez) of Reading filed a lawsuit on Jan. 5 in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas against the Retreat at Lancaster County, NR Pennsylvania Associates, Dr. Joseph A. Troncale and Dr. Frank DeLia, all of Ephrata.

“On Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, plaintiffs’ decedent, Arsenio L. Cortez (decedent), voluntarily presented to defendants’ addiction treatment center. Defendants personally, or by and through staff, screened the decedent prior to admission, said process including, but not limited to, a physical exam, psychosocial clinical assessment and obtainment of physical and mental health histories,” the lawsuit states.

“During the admission exam/history, defendants were made aware, or should have become aware, that decedent suffered from addiction to heroin, ’crack’ cocaine, and alcohol. Defendants were also made aware, or should have become aware, that the decedent’s medical history included… depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, tachycardia, asthma and vocal cord dysfunction.”

Following exams and the screening process, the decedent was admitted into the facility for the “PA Detox” program and administered a variety of medications, including Abilify, Albuterol, Bentyl, Catapres, Colase, Cymbalta, Flexeril, Flonase, Folic Acid, Prilosec, Trazadone, Tylenol, Serax, Vistaril, Librium, Phenobarbital and Subutex (Buprenorphine).

According to the lawsuit, the decedent “presented to the nursing staff with withdrawal complaints and corresponding symptoms on Jan. 8, 2015 and again on Jan. 9, 2015.” Defendant Troncale met with the decedent and performed an examination the morning of Jan. 9, 2015, and his diagnosis at that time included “opiate, cocaine, alcohol and benzo dependence.”

Cortez says the decedent was administered Subutex (Buprenorphine) on Jan. 9, in addition to the other medications that had been prescribed by Dr. DeLia and other staff, and noted Subutex and other medications administered to the decedent are “known respiratory depressants.”

On Jan. 9, the decedent was found unresponsive in his room by a roommate-patient, and though nursing staff and emergency services were alerted and began to administer CPR, the decedent never regained consciousness or resumed breathing and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“Following his death, the Ephrata Police Department searched decedent’s personal belongings and found no drugs or drug paraphernalia. Decedent’s death was caused solely by the negligence of defendants herein, and was due in no manner whatsoever to any act or failure to act on the part of decedent. At the time of his death, the decedent, Antonio Cortez, was 43 years old and had a life expectancy of 78.78 years, having been born on Aug. 4, 1971,” the suit states.

Cortez says the individual and collective negligence of the defendants led to multiple drug toxicity and the untimely death of her husband, leading her to file the instant suit.

For charges of corporate negligence, professional negligence, vicarious liability, wrongful death and survival action, the plaintiff is seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000 and in excess of the court’s compulsory arbitration limits, exclusive of pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest and costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Stephen A. Corr and Breandan A. Nemec of Begley Carlin & Mandio in Langhorne.

Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas case CI-17-00083

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com.

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Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas
50 North Duke Street
Lancaster, PA - 17602

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