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Medical Malpractice Suit Filed Against Surgeon in California

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

The thought of going "under the knife" sparks fear in many patients, who naturally anticipate that something may go awry during the surgery. After all, doctors are humans too, and some are prone to making mistakes. When a family member loses a loved one to surgery as a result of a doctor's negligence, grief and frustration are understandable reactions. However, these emotions can easily transform into anger if family members learn that the doctor tried to cover up the mistake as well. One family in California is facing this type of medical malpractice situation.

In this malpractice case, a man underwent surgery to remove a herniated disc in the neck. He ended up passing away the next morning as a result of complications from the operation. The man died of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure, officials said.

The wife of the 42-year-old man claimed the medical facility that performed the surgery retrieved a fake autopsy report and tried to conceal the facts regarding the man's death. The report falsely represented that her husband died of natural causes due to having a fatty liver, the woman said. The victim's wife is seeking punitive damages -- something that is rarely awarded in California malpractice suits.

The family of a patient who dies during surgery has the right to file a suit for compensatory damages if the evidence suggests that the doctor did not exercise a reasonable degree of care during the procedure. However, suing for punitive damages is also appropriate if an egregious wrong was perpetrated. Liability must be adequately established in a California civil court in order for a medical malpractice suit to be successful. Financial restitution from a successfully navigated case can help with end-of-life expenses and other financial losses resulting from the tragedy..

Source:, Sierra Vista faces rare punitive damages claim, Christine De La Cruz, Jan. 17, 2014