$1.775 Million Jury Verdict for Settlement – Failure to Diagnose Aortic Rupture

Tarallo v. Chaaban: An Essex County jury awarded $1.575 million on Feb. 14 in a wrongful death medical malpractice case. An additional $200,000 from a high-low agreement brings the recovery to $1.775 million.

Richard Tarallo of Nutley died on Aug. 12, 2006, at age 39 from an aortic tear.

He started having chest pains in May of that year and on July 30, after collapsing, went to Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville and was admitted for three days. During this time, radiologist Jeffrey Naiman administered a CT-angiogram, which found blood in the pericardium near the aorta but no rupture or hole, says the family’s lawyer at Blume Forte in Chatham.

He says Naiman did the test with contrast and might have found the bleeding cause through a test without contrast, while cardiologist Fadi Chaaban should have ordered more tests or sent Tarallo to St. Barnabas, which was better equipped to handle aortic problems. The firm adds that Chaaban should not have sent Tarallo home without making sure there was no aortic hole or rupture.

Tarallo went back to the hospital with chest pains on Aug. 5 and was later released.

The jury found Chaaban 80 percent liable and Naiman 20 percent, awarding $1.25 million in lost wages and $225,000 on Tarallo’s wife’s per quod claim, plus $100,000 for pain and suffering.

Two doctors were no-caused: cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Pontoriero and emergency room doctor Joe Dib. He will pay $200,000 under a $2 million-$200,000 high-low agreement reached during trial before Superior Court Judge James Rothschild Jr.

Craig Combs of Giblin & Combs in Morristown, for Pontoriero, confirms the verdict.

Jeremy Cooley of Lenox, Socey, Formidoni, Giordano, Cooley, Lang & Casey in Lawrenceville, Chaaban’s attorney, could not be reached. James Sharp of Cedar Knolls, for Naiman, and Evelyn Farkas of Farkas & Donohue in Florham Park, for Dib, did not return calls.