Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

atomiumIn a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, a decedent’s estate appealed from a summary judgment in favor of a building company. The decedent was an employee of a steel company that had subcontracted with a building company to install structural steel at a construction project.

The steel company’s employees left a 700-pound beam of tube steel on steel pads or saddles that were welded onto vertical steel columns. The employees attached the beam to a center mounting tab situated on the columns. However, the workers didn’t weld the ends of the beams to the saddles. The steel company’s employees loosened the center bolts, causing the beam to fall 12-15 feet. The beam crashed into machinery, bounced off the concrete, and hit the decedent in his head, neck, and upper back.

Ambulances arrived at the construction site, and the decedent told the emergency responders that the lower half of his body was numb. The emergency responders took him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with an acute, serious injury to his spine. He was paralyzed below the neck and suffered severe pain. In spite of several surgeries to remove the shattered bone from the decedent, he eventually died.

Continue reading

pregnancyIn a North Carolina wrongful death decision, the plaintiffs were the parents of a pregnant woman who died. The decedent found she was pregnant with her first kid in 2012. She became a patient of the defendant, a member of an alliance of providers providing obstetrical care. The defendant entity had five physicians who were involved in treating the patient.

The doctors diagnosed her with lupus during the prenatal period. In her third trimester, she complained of cramping, and the doctors found her blood pressure was elevated, and her urine contained protein. She was sent to a medical center to be evaluated for potential preeclampsia. Her doctor at the medical center conducted tests that showed she was suffering from severe thrombocytopenia, hemolysis, and elevated lactate dehydrogenase.

The medical center doctor consulted with the woman’s obstetrician, and they agreed they should induce labor and deliver the baby once her platelets stabilized. She gave birth to a son without complications. That morning, another doctor took over and diagnosed the patient with HELLP syndrome. A transfusion of red blood cells was ordered. The patient’s blood pressure rose, and another transfusion was ordered. A third one was ordered later.

Continue reading

recordIn a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, the 23-year-old decedent was punched in the face by a 25-year-old assailant and taken to two hospitals. In 2010, he died from his injuries. The decedent’s brother sued the defendant.

The two men had gone to a club in September. They were good friends. The defendant got to the club at around 10 pm and called the decedent to tell him so. The defendant planned to talk to the decedent about something that happened months earlier when the defendant’s sister and the decedent had both gone to the same party. The sister had told the defendant that the decedent had made unwanted sexual advances toward her at that party. The defendant didn’t know if this was true.

The decedent got to the club at around 11 with his brother, the plaintiff, as well as his sister, two friends, and the son of one of the friends. The son testified he heard the phone conversation between the decedent and the defendant. While they were on the way to the club, the decedent talked to another man on the phone, which may have been the defendant.

Continue reading

pain-1366480In an interesting 2016 North Carolina appellate case, the plaintiffs appealed a dismissal of their complaint against a hospital and university health care system. The case arose when a man was admitted to the hospital complaining of abdominal pains. He was married to the plaintiff and was the father of two children who were also plaintiffs. He was an active, healthy person.

While at the hospital, the man’s condition got worse and he was transferred to the ICU, put on a ventilator and died. His body was transferred to the university health care system, but it was later unclear from the plaintiff’s complaint whether this was before or after he died. The defendants’ responsive pleadings stated that his deceased body was transferred.

A few years later, the plaintiffs sued the hospital and health care system. They claimed that the decedent had screamed and called out loudly for his wife and kids, but the hospital staff refused to permit them to see him. The wife told staff she had waited too much time to see her husband and staff had sat with her in the waiting room but refused to let her see the man. The plaintiffs also alleged that neither the man nor his wife had given permission for him to be removed from the ventilator.

Continue reading

x-rayIn Livingston Gause v. New Hanover, a North Carolina appellate court considered whether a patient’s fall during an X-ray brought his injury claim under medical malpractice laws. The case arose when a daughter drove her mom to the ER because she had chest pains related to a fall. The mother was 73 and had a history of falls.

At the ER, a nurse evaluated the mother’s complaint and determined which priority she should be. She asked for an x-ray chest PA or AP. The PA chest x-ray required a patient to stand, while the AP could be taken with the patient lying down or sitting or standing. However, the PA provided more information about the patient, permitting a more accurate diagnosis.

After several minutes, the mother was taken to a restricted area within the ER and evaluated by a different nurse. The x-ray technician met the mother and her daughter in the hall and took her in a wheelchair to radiology. The daughter stayed in the hall. The tech explained what was going to happen to the mother, asking her if she could stand, and the mother answered that she thought she could stand. The mother then stood up without help. However, the tech spoke to a doctor later in the day and told the doctor that she stood the patient up.

Continue reading