A family that blamed a doctor for prescribing prescription drugs which lead to the fatal overdose of a loved one is appealing a judge’s decision after he ruled too much time had passed for the relatives to sue the doctor’s employer.
Originally Brandy Stoutenberg’s family blamed Dr. Daniel Baldi for the Iowa woman’s 2010 overdose death. The doctor was acquitted in 2014 of criminal charges of manslaughter in the deaths of nine patients, including Stoutenberg and Paul Gray, a founding member of the band Slipknot.
Powerful prescription painkillers such as opioid medications can slow breathing and worsen disrupted breathing that occurs with sleep apnea, potentially leading to irregular heartbeats, heart attacks or sudden death. More than 14,000 fatal overdoses were linked to prescription painkillers in the United States in 2014.
During the medical malpractice trial, another doctor testified that he, not Baldi, had prescribed a powerful stimulant and anti-anxiety medication to Stoutenberg. The doctor’s testimony, in large part, led the jury to acquit Baldi.
Despite the acquittal in the criminal case, the wrongful death lawsuit was expected to go to trial this month. After an expert hired by Stoutenberg’s family sided with the doctor, saying her death was not his fault, the relatives tried to move forward with a lawsuit anyway against the healthcare system that employed the doctor.
However, the judge ruled that switching the focus of their lawsuit made it a completely new claim and too much time had passed after Stoutenberg’s death to file a new case against the healthcare organization. Under Iowa law, patients have about two years after the time of injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Each state has statutes of limitations — or timeframes — in which personal injury cases can be filed. Many states have extended deadlines specifically for the filing medical malpractice lawsuits. This extension gives patients time to realize malpractice has occurred.
New York state legislators, for two years, have been grappling with bills that would extend the time patients have to file malpractice lawsuits. This summer they again rejected such a bill despite an outcry from patient’s rights advocates.
In 2015, the legislature considered a bill commonly known as Lavern’s Law, named after Lavern Wilkinson, a 41-year-old Brooklyn mother who died in 2013 of a curable form of lung cancer after doctors misdiagnosed her. By the time she sued, the timeframe to file a medical malpractice lawsuit had closed.
Elissa McMahon, a 41-year-old mother from Boston, was a strong supporter of the most recent unsuccessful attempt to pass the bill for a malpractice time extension. She was treated at a New York hospital in 2012 for what doctors told her were benign uterine fibroids. They were wrong. In 2014 McMahon learned she had advanced uterine cancer that already had spread to her liver and spine. By the time she was properly diagnosed, the statute of limitations had passed for her to file a malpractice lawsuit.
Regardless of how much time has passed, if you were misdiagnosed or a doctor failed to diagnose a serious medical condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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