$4.625 Million for Wrongful Death Settlement

In one of the largest wrongful death settlements in state history, the family of a Jersey City psychiatrist has settled their lawsuit for Four Million Six Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($4,625,000) against Meadowlands Hospital and a number of physicians. The client was a 39-year-old psychiatrist with a wife and two daughters aged 11 and 13 when he entered Meadowlands Hospital for laparoscopic gallbladder surgery on July 31, 1998. The surgery, known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a procedure in which a small opening is made near the belly button and the gallbladder is removed with tools and a camera inserted into the small opening. It is much less invasive than an open gallbladder removal and usually allows patients to return home and to work within a day or two.

During the surgery, the defendant’s small bowel was perforated by either an instrument or the electrocautery device. As a result of this perforation, the food being fed to leaked out into his abdomen causing severe infection and sepsis.

A number of physicians and specialists treated the client over the nine days he was at Meadowlands Hospital without accurately diagnosing his problem or doing exploratory surgery to find the perforation. This occurred despite a progressively worsening condition which included severe abdominal pain, nausea, fever, a distended abdomen, vomiting and ultimately hallucinations. The decedent’s test results including white blood counts, x-rays, and CT Scans also were consistent with the abscess caused by the bowel perforation.

Nine days after his surgery, the patient was finally transferred to UMDNJ (who was not a defendant in this case) where he was immediately brought into surgery and doctors removed 2.7 liters of pus from his belly. Unfortunately, by then, all of the patient’s organs were infected and his body went into septic shock. There was no way for him to survive. The Del Rio family was represented by Ronald P. Goldfaden of Chatham, New Jersey and Jonathan T. Colby from Miami, Florida.