Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Samaritan Hospital’s lawsuit:

A message from David Baker

Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011

In mid July, Samaritan the operators of Samaritan Hospital filed a lawsuit against me.

That was nine weeks ago. They have not yet served it.

This might be because they realized – too late – that going ahead with it would damage them far more then it would damage me. They may then have decided to abandon it, hoping that I would never know it had been filed.

But I learned of it at the end of August. That led to the story in the Times Union that has resulted in hundreds of people visiting my site and reading about some of the many lawsuits alleging negligence against Northeast Health that otherwise probably would never would have become public.

The hospital has several more weeks in which to proceed with the action it started. Check back here for more information as it become available. You can also follow this page on Twitter at:

Read the Times Union HERE


Friday, September 02, 2011

Case over

Hospital settles claim of untreated
intestinal obstruction for $275,000

By David Baker
Posted Sept. 2, 2011

A lawsuit in which it is alleged that a patient at Samaritan Hospital in Troy died in agony because an obstruction in her intestine was not treated has been settled.

According to papers filed in the case, Elizabeth Goebel went to the emergency room at Samaritan with extreme stomach pain. A CT scan was performed, which showed Goebel had a sigmoid volvulus – a twist in the intestine – that was causing an obstruction. The radiologist stated in a deposition that he told an emergency department doctor about the obstruction; the doctor said he was not told.

The legal papers also say that nurses recorded significant drops in Goebel’s blood pressure but did not tell anyone.

According to the documents, Goebel was “screaming and in 10 out of 10 pain.” She was given Demerol but was still in obvious pain.

After being admitted but still in a holding area in the ER at about 3 a.m., Goebel was found with agonal respirations, which often immediately precede death.

A code was called and Goebel was intubated. After 37 minutes, she died.

In a seven-page settlement brief, the plaintiffs cited 29 cases where there had been a settlement or a verdict for pain and suffering. The cases included $240,000 for two to four minutes of pain suffering and 10 seconds of fear of impending death; $500,000 set on appeal for conscious pain and suffering where a person received significant injuries but was only minimally conscious before death; and $1,250,000 for conscious pain and suffering, affirmed on appeal, for a 42-year-old homemaker who was injured by an improper intubation, suffered brain damage, lapsed into a coma and died.

The lawyers for Goebel asked for $350,000 for her pain and suffering; $175,000 for a relative’s financial loss, plus funeral expenses and $50,000 interest.

The claim was settled for $275,000. Of this, $12,925 was for Goebel’s lawyers’ costs and disbursements and $78,018 for their legal fees. The remainder, $184,055, went to Goebel’s estate.

The plaintiff was represented by Patrick J. Higgins of Powers & Santola in Albany. Samaritan Hospital’s lawyer was Debra Young of Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler & Young, also in Albany.

A search of the Times Union archives for ‘Elizabeth Goebel’ produced only one result: an obituary, which said she was 74, from Latham, and died suddenly at Samaritan Hospital.

COMMENT: Justice delayed

Goebel case another example of
hospital lawyers’ stalling tactics

By David Baker
Posted Sept. 2, 2011

During the pre-trial proceedings in the Elizabeth Goebel lawsuit against Samaritan Hospital, the lawyers representing the estate wanted to know the names of two other patients who were in beds in the same area of the emergency room as Goebel.

So they made a formal request for the names.

And that’s when the hospital came up with reasons why it should not provide the information.

In an affidavit in support of a motion for a protective order, the hospital’s CEO said 98 patients were treated in the ER on the day Goebel was seen.

“Therefore, someone from Samaritan Hospital would have to review each and every page of each and every chart to determine whether any record was kept of what bed they were in during their time in the Emergency Department,” the CEO stated. “This process would be very time-consuming and at best, extremely inaccurate.”

Never mind that yet another patient had died unexpectedly and in this case, in great pain, while in the hospital’s care. The priority once again was conceal, obstruct and delay.

The CEO also claimed that even if the hospital did identify the patients, providing the information to the plaintiffs would violate the patients’ privacy rights.

But the judge was having none of it.

“The CPLR [Civil Practice Law and Rules] directs that there be ‘full disclosure of all evidence material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action,’ ” the judge wrote in a decision and order granting the plaintiff’s motion. “The information requested need not be shown to be indispensable, but rather must only be ‘needful’ and sufficiently related to the subject matter of the action to be reasonable.”

The judge said that as long as the requested information would not reveal the patients’ medical status – such as showing that they were in a cardiac unit and therefore had a heart condition – their privacy would not be violated. Since in this case they were in an emergency department, where many conditions are treated, there is no reason, the judge said, to withhold their identities from the plaintiff.

As for the hospital’s objection that there were too many records to be searched, the judge noted that of the 98 patients seen in the ER that day, only 15 were admitted, and that an ER log showed what time each patient arrived at the hospital and when they were admitted.

Which, of course, the hospital knew all along.

“The Court finds that this information sufficiently narrows the number of patients who could have been placed within the same hold room as plaintiff’s decedent to a manageable number,” the judge wrote.

He then gave Samaritan 20 days to produce the names. He also granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel the hospital to produce information that had been requested in an earlier notice, a response to which was several months overdue.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Settled - maybe

Yvette Dall: an update

A story on this page dated July 29 said that a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the Eddy Heritage House nursing home on behalf of Yvette Dall had been settled, suggesting that a payment had been made.

That may or may not be the case.

As the story indicated, an entry on the court’s Web site about a Jan. 21, 2011 hearing says “Disposed. Post: Settled before trial.”

A subsequent examination of the paper file at the Rensselaer County clerk’s office confirms that the case was discontinued. Documents indicating a discontinuance are sometimes filed when a case is settled, but in this instance there is nothing in the file to show that there was a settlement of the claim.

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