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Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds $2.5 Million Verdict Against UPMC

Posted on Mar 24, 2010

Murrysville native Michael Rettger was 24 years old when he died at UPMC Shadyside in November 2003 as a result of an undetected brain herniation.  In the aftermath of his death, Michael’s two brothers brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against UPMC.  After a two week trial in May 2008, an Allegheny County jury found that shoddy nursing care at UPMC Shadyside was solely to blame for Michael Rettger’s brain herniation and untimely death.

The jury awarded the Rettger family $2.5 million, but awarded $0 to the Estate of Michael Rettger for Michael’s lost earnings, despite the fact that at the time of his death Michael was a highly successful accountant in the Pittsburgh offices of Ernst & Young.

On December 12, 2008, Judge Timothy P. O’Reilly of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, who had heard all the evidence, found that the verdict of $0 for Michael’s lost earnings was a miscarriage of justice and awarded the Estate of Michael Rettger a new trial solely on the question of Michael’s Rettger’s lost earnings.  UPMC appealed this ruling and a host of others made by Judge O’Reilly to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

In a strongly-worded opinion filed on March 17, 2010, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed both the jury’s award of $2.5 million to the Rettger family and the Allegheny County Court’s award of a new trial limited to the question of the amount of Michael Rettger’s lost earnings as a result of UPMC’s medical malpractice.