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Court Upholds $14.2 Million Medical Malpractice Judgment against UPMC

Posted on Nov 05, 2013

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld a $10 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice case against UPMC Shadyside.  The newspaper reports that Berger & Lagnese law firm, based in Pittsburgh, PA, obtained a $10 million jury verdict against UPMC in a medical malpractice case in 2012.  The jury verdict has accrued interest since 2012, and so the total amount of the judgment is now approximately $14.2 million.  The Post-Gazette reports that this is the largest medical malpractice award in at least the past 13 years.  This case involved the tragic death of Mike Rettger.  Mike was a young accountant with a promising career.  While Mike was in West Virginia, he went to a local hospital due to a severe headache.  A CT (CAT scan) of Mike's head showed a mass which was either a brain tumor or a brain abscess, and he was transferred to UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh for surgery.  While at UPMC Shadyside, on the night before surgery, Mike developed a "fixed and dilated pupil" in his left eye.  This is a sign of increased pressure inside the brain and impending serious brain injury, if left untreated.  Mike's nurse made a phone call to the neurosurgeon who was planning to do the surgery the next morning.  At trial, this surgeon testified that the nurse did not tell him that Mike had a fixed and dilated pupil.  As a result, the surgeon did not immediately come to the hospital to care for Mike.  By the time the surgeon arrived the next morning, severe brain damage had already occurred and Mike subsequently died as a result.  The Berger & Lagnese law firm brought a medical malpractice case on behalf of the Rettger family.  The jury concluded that UPMC Shadyside, through its employees and healthcare personnel, were careless and negligent in their care of Mike Rettger, and that this negligence caused Mike's death.  That jury awarded $2.5 million in 2008 for the wrongful death of Mike Rettger.  An additional trial was scheduled to calculate a verdict for the loss of earnings resulting from Mike's death.  At that trial in 2012, the jury reached a verdict of $10 million.  UPMC appealed this verdict to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  Yesterday, the Court upheld the jury's verdict.  The total amount of the verdict, with interest accruing on the verdict since 2013, is now $14.2 million.

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