A medical malpractice claim was brought against Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center by a man’s estate after he died while in their care. Judge Lesa S. Gelb, of the Luzerne County Court, approved a $4.5 million settlement, of which $2.52 million will be paid to the estate of Andrew J. Martin and $1.81 million to the law firm involved. Martin, who died at age 70, was apparently in the hospital for several months in 2016. The cause of death was not specifically stated in the court documents, which listed the named defendants as being Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Geisinger Clinic. Martin was said to have endured minimal suffering and that prior to his death he was responsive and alert, yet the details were quite vague.
Martin’s wife of 48 years, Margaret Martin, and his three adult children were plaintiffs in the matter. Court documents indicate that Martin’s hospital stay lasted 77 days and the records relating to his care were nearly 20,000 pages long. The pre-trial phase of the action included consultations from experts, as well as a great deal of research and negotiations of the final settlement. The parties were said to have “vigorously contested” the issues of fault in this highly complex claim. The Martin family was satisfied with the “exceptional” outcome in the matter, while the defense denied being at fault.
The negotiations of the settlement apparently lasted for a couple of months and the damages will be paid in two phases. A $3.5 million payment was to be paid within a period of 20 days, with $1 million payable before the end of the year. Attorneys for the defendant claimed that their care provided was appropriate and adhered to an acceptable standard of care. They felt that they had not caused the death or contributed to it, yet their counsel ultimately chose to mediate and settle the action.
Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice procedures are outlined by the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare), which decades ago replaced the Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund, referred to as the “CAT” Fund. Every medical malpractice liability insurer in the state maintains reporting requirements with the state’s Department of Insurance that administers the program.
The state allows for mediation in these matters in efforts to resolve claims, often when more than one insurance provider is involved in a case. Mediation can be binding if the parties involved provide consent. The Department of Insurance has authority to manage the Fund and is often involved in defending, litigating and settling claims that the fund may pay.