The Marcarian Law Firm has just received notice of an arbitrator’s award of $2.2M to the surviving family of a 56-year-old doctor who died as a result of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ‘s negligent treatment of his multiple coronary heart disease. In this hard-fought case, the family argued that Kaiser’s interventional cardiologists were negligent in hastily treating only 2 of 6 occluded arteries by angioplasty (stenting) and never seeking the opinion of a cardiothoracic surgeon who would have recommended coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery as the standard of care to treat the entire heart. Two months after Kaiser’s inadequate stenting, the patient died of sudden cardiac death.
For its part, Kaiser relied on an “alternative methods of care” defense and the argument that the fatal arrhythmia could have come from any area of the damaged heart but, more likely than not, from an area that the interventional cardiologists HAD treated. The costly, highly-complex 6-day arbitration involved a parade of experts on both sides. Closing arguments were submitted in writing, followed by an additional day before the arbitrator for clarification and argument. At the request of the arbitrator, final supplemental briefs were then filed.
This was a tough one, but we are extremely gratified that the deceased’s relatively young family will mitigate their economic loss to some degree. The arbitrator awarded the MICRA limit of $250,000 in full, opining that it was an arbitrary number, to begin with. The arbitrator accepted the family’s damage calculation in full, subject to a very small offset for certain expenses and a larger offset for comparative negligence on the part of the deceased. All in all, $2.2M net.