Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Actor works to expose med errors

Web page launched for
Dennis Quaid foundation

A foundation set up by actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly after the couple's new-born twins almost died from an overdose of a blood thinner now has a web site.

The page invites people to tell their stories of medical errors, and to join a mailing list.

A summary of Lisa's case will be submitted shortly, with a link back to this site.

The page is at:


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Judgment call

Time, it seems, is always on their side

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The judge's strange decision earlier this month to give the defendants more than twice the extra time they had asked for - over my written objection - to respond to my motion for summary judgment is not the first time he has gone out of his way to help them.

Back in 2006, the lawyers representing Samaritan Hospital and two doctors didn't want to add time; they were trying to reduce the number of days I would have to find a new lawyer. They knew finding alternative representation would not be easy and they were clearly hoping that I would not be able to do so and that I would be forced to drop the lawsuit.

But after my former attorney had asked the court to remove her from the case, two of the defendants' lawyers waited until the day after the deadline to send a letter to the judge asking that I get only 60 days rather than the 120 days my former attorney had requested I be given. Both letters should have been disregarded by the court, but instead the judge reduced the time to 90 days. Meanwhile, he refused to accept a reply to the motion from me because I had mistakenly not had it notarized.

Ninety days might sound like enough time to find a new lawyer. But doing soinvolves having the medical file reviewed by a doctor. And look how long it took for Kathleen Ryan, the hospital's lawyer to get a "final review," which she said was necessary before she could make any offer to settle. More than five months. I suspect it took so long because the first several experts she went to were unwilling to give her the report she wanted.

At the March 6 conference, she said she now had the report, and that it is "more favorably to the hospital and less favorably to (a doctor who is no longer a defendant)."

But she made two significant admissions in that statement. One, that avoidable damage was done. And two, that the hospital is responsible for some of it.

There is a rule that says that if any one defendant is found to be more then 50 responsible, that defendant can be liable for 100 percent of the damages. So she is now trying not to avoid her client's liability, but to limit it by blaming the 'empty chair'.

I don't believe it will work. The medical record shows the doctor anticipated that Lisa might become hypoglycemic that evening and gave instructions on how to treat it, instructions that the nurses did not follow.

The next step is for the defendants to serve responses to my motion, which, following the judge's strange decision, are not now due until the end of next month. That's nine weeks longer than the seven days I had to respond to the motions they served on me.

And I am still waiting for Ms. Ryan to acknowledge that she was wrong when she accused me in writing of failing to file a deposition transcript with the court.

Admitting mistakes is clearly not something she, or her clients are able to do.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Attorney's false allegation

Lawyer claims documents not filed

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A lawyer representing Samaritan Hospital has claimed that a transcript of a deposition I took of a nurse last year has not been filed with the court or provided to her firm.

The lawyer - one of at least two at this firm working on the case - sent a letter received Saturday which says: "Please be advised that you did not provide a conformed copy of the Examination Before Trial transcript of Mary Ann Lee to our office or the Court."

Lee is a defendant in the lawsuit. She was one of the nurses on duty on the fourth floor of Samaritan Hospital on the night Lisa suffered the injuries that ended her life.

In fact, the document was filed with the court on February 11. A copy of the court-stamped transcript was mailed to the law firm the same day.

It was sent via U.S. Post Office Priority Mail, with delivery confirmation requested. A check of the receipt number on the Postal Office tracking Web page shows an item was mailed that day from my ZIP code and was delivered the next morning to an address in the law firm's ZIP code.

But lawyer Kathleen Ryan at Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird was so quick to pounce on a mistake that she apparently didn't check her own files before firing off that letter.

I have now written to her, enclosing a copy of the court receipt and demanding that she explain why she accused me of not filing the transcript.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Off the record

Court reporter absent from
latest conference with judge

By David Baker

Posted Monday, March 10, 2008

The conference last week was the third since I took over the case in March of last year. But this one was different: there was no stenographer in the room to record the proceedings.

After each of the first two conferences, I obtained a copy of the transcript (the second time more than six weeks later and only after repeated calls to the court clerks' office and to the reporter herself). And each time I quoted from the transcript in a posting on this page with information that could well be considered unflattering to the defense attorneys.

But this time my account of the conference can be based only on on my brief notes and recollection.

Contacted today, a employee at the court said she was unsure who would decide whether or not a reporter would be present, but that any party could request one.

Given what happened last week, and that there were three attorneys on the other side, I will certainly be asking for a record at any future conferences in this case.

Friday, March 07, 2008

State of confusion

Lawyers get more
 than they wanted
By David Baker
Posted Friday, March 7, 2008

The defendants in my lawsuit against Samaritan Hospital and a doctor were given even more time than they had asked for during a conference at the courthouse on Thursday.

State Supreme Court Judge Stephen Ferradino called all parties to his chambers in a letter sent out last month. But after everyone was seated, he looked around and asked: "So which of you asked for this conference?"

The letter from the judge arrived on the same day as a letter from attorneys for Samaritan Hospital that said the judge had granted their request for an extension of 30 days to respond to my motion for summary judgment.

I had sent in a written objection to the delay.
After a brief discussion, the judge said her would give the defense attorneys until April 30 - five weeks more than they had requested - to file their motions.

One of two attorneys there representing the hospital then said that in addition to opposing my motion, she intended to file a cross motion for summary dismissal.

To succeed, a motion for summary judgment must convince a judge that even if everything alleged in a lawsuit is true, the plaintiff has no case.

Such motions are rarely granted, but they are often used by large corporations and insurance companies in a cynical attempt to drive up a plaintiff's costs. The hope is that the plaintiff will be forced to drop even a claim that has merit or accept an tiny "nuisance value" settlement. These motions usually require both sides to obtain the testimony of an expert, which big insurance companies can easily afford to do, while a small law firm or, as in this case, a self-represented litigant might find much more difficult.

Samaritan's lawyer said that she in fact does have an expert who will say that the hospital has little if any responsibility for the injuries Lisa received while she was its care. But she also said that it had taken from last September until now - almost five months - to find the expert and to get his or her formal opinion.