Massachusetts Landmark Ruling: Gross Negligence Verdict Against Physician Upheld on Appeal

Appeals Court win is a game changer regarding recovery of punitive damages for gross negligence in med-mal cases

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has upheld a $2.5 million award of punitive damages for gross negligence as part of a $6.8 million verdict from 2018, in a medical malpractice wrongful death trial (Parsons v. Ameri, et al.). The lawsuit claimed gross negligence by Winchester Hospital surgeon, Darius Ameri, MD, related to the death of a woman following hiatal hernia surgery for his failure to use proper surgical technique and for using a surgical tack applier for surgery in close proximity to the heart against the manufacturer's safety warning due to risk of puncture to the pericardium or other vital structures.

As reported in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in front page story on March 5, 2020:
“Plaintiffs’ attorneys see a recent Appeals Court decision as kicking open the door to the recovery of punitive damages for gross negligence in medical malpractice cases.”
Attorney Adam R. Satin
Lubin & Meyer Attorney Adam R. Satin represented the plaintiff, who died of cardiac arrest two days after the surgery. Autopsy revealed puncture marks to the pericardium and collected blood.

"After we received the autopsy report," according to Satin, “it became pretty clear what had happened. She bled from the injury and fluid accumulated between the sac and the heart muscle, creating pressure. Essentially, squeezed the heart muscle and it eventually gave out.”

The jury found the surgeon and his first assistant were negligent when they failed to use proper surgical technique and that the surgeon’s decision to ignore the surgical tacker manufacturer’s safety warning constituted gross negligence awarding compensatory and punitive damages totaling $6.8 million.

See the 2018 trial lawyer’s report here: Hernia Mesh Surgery Death: Jury Finds Gross Negligence, Awards $6.8 Million

See Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reporting here.

See the full text of the Appeals Court opinion here: Parsons v. Ameri, et al.

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