Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Breaking: Jury reaches verdict

Saratoga Hospital coffee-burn
patient wins partial jury verdict

By David Baker
Posted July 21, 2014
263 words

A Saratoga County panel of six jurors said the Saratoga Hospital was not negligent in allowing a patient in the emergency room to have hot coffee that spilled on him during a seizure, but decided that the hospial did deviate from the accepted standard of care in its treatment of his burns and awarded him $25,000 for pain and suffering.

The verdict came at the end of a trial before state Supreme Court Justice Ann C. Crowell in Ballston Spa. The lawsuit was the subject of an exclusive story posted here last week.

The amount of the award means that Rodney Vallone will probably get nothing. His attorneys are entitled to a third of the net amount, that is after the costs of preparing for and conducting a trial are deducted. These may well exceed the award.

Jurors were asked a series of questions, most of which required a yes or no answer.

Did the defendant deviate from the standard of care in its treatment of Vallone? YES. Was this deviation a substantial factor in causing harm to Vallone? YES. (One juror voted no).  Did the hospital deviate from the standard of care in discharging Vallone? YES. Was this a substantial factor in causing harm? NO. Was Vallone negligent while in the ER? YES.  Was this a factor in causing him harm? YES.

Jurors were asked to state the percentage of fault. They said the hospital was 10 percent to blame, Vallone 90 percent.  They set damages at $25,000 for past pain and suffering.  Asked if he was due an award for medical expenses or future pain, they voted no.

Missed diagnosis alleged

Flesh-eating infection
of hand brings lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted July 21, 2014
343 words

A man who claims his left hand is unusable after doctors failed to promptly diagnose a flesh-eating infection has filed a lawsuit against them and Albany Memorial Hospital.

According to legal papers, Carl Hodge of Albany County went to the hospital’s emergency room in May 2012 complaining of severe pain following an injury to his left thumb. After an examination by defendant Alison Spear, M.D. he was referred to defendant Virgilio Victoriano M.D. After an examination, the thumb was immobilized with a cast and he was sent home.

Three days later Hodge went back to the Albany Memorial emergency room where he was seen by physician’s assistant Karyn Schwarzenegger and physicians Tammy Adamason and  David Golub, all of whom are named as defendants.  The cast was removed and Hodge was sent home but, according to the suit, Victoriano was not notified that Hodge had returned to the hospital.

Four days later Hodge went back to Victoriano, who sent him that same day to Albany Memorial for surgery for what was diagnosed as necrotizing fasciitis – a so-called flesh-eating infection.

“Over the next several weeks, plaintiff remained hospitalized for severe necrotizing infection and underwent multiple surgical procedures on the left hand including excision of skin blebs, incision and drainage of subcutaneous hematoma and pus, multiple radical debridements of infected tissue, muscle and fascia, resulting in complicated open wound left hand that ultimately required split thickness skin graft,” a document filed in the case says.

After discharge from the hospital Hodge received extensive physical therapy but was left with a hand that is all but unusable, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed by John B. Casey, an attorney with the Albany law firm Dreyer Boyajian. The hospital is represented by MaGuire, Cardona of Menands. Representing Victoriano is Eugene Napierski of  Napierski, Vandenburgh, Napierski & O’Connor. The other defendants and a limited partnership by which they were employed are represented by Phelan, Phelan & Danek of Albany.

As with every other case reported by this web page since 2008, there is no indication that details have been published in the area’s media.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Burning issue

Case of ER patient injured
by hot coffee goes to trial

By David Baker
Posted July 18, 2014
505 words

A trial in a case in which man with a history of seizures who was burned when he passed out and spilled hot coffee on his groin area while in the emergency room at Saratoga Hospital started this week at the Saratoga County office complex in Ballston Spa.

Rodney Vallone of Saratoga Springs claims the hospital is liable because it allowed him to have the coffee, and for allegedly failing to immediately transfer him to a burn unit.

The lawsuit was filed in 2008 and named only the hospital as a defendant.  In 2010, Vallone’s attorneys become aware that some of the people involved in his care were not employees of the hospital but worked for a company called Saratoga Emergency Physicians. The lawyers tried to serve an amended complaint that added Saratoga Emergency Physicians as a defendant, and also alleged that the hospital had failed to create incident reports and had destroyed photographs of Vallone’s injuries.

The hospital refused to accept the amended complaint and the dispute went before the judge, Stephen Ferradino, who ruled that it was too late to add defendants, and that Vallone’s lawyers had presented no evidence that records were destroyed.

“The Court is struck by the failure of the plaintiff to provide the court and other proof in admissible form to support the proposed amendment such as testimony or documents about the hospital policy plaintiff alleges was violated,” Ferradino wrote in a decision denying the motion.

In 2013 the hospital served a motion for summary judgment, asking that the entire case be dismissed.  Such a motion by defendants is routine in the weeks before a scheduled trial.

“The defendant asserts that summary judgment should be granted in this case because it cannot be held vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of the emergency room physician’s assistant or the hospitalist, because these individuals were not employees of the defendant,” Ferradino wrote in a decision. “However, an exception to this rule exists where a patient comes into a hospital emergency room seeking treatment from the hospital itself rather than a physician of the patient’s own choosing.  Therefore, the hospital is not entitled to summary judgment on this basis.”

In its motion, the hospital presented affidavits from two doctors.  One of them said that there is no standard of care that requires medical personal to prevent a patient having a drink. Both said that the hospital was in no way responsible for Vallone’s injuries.

But Vallone’s expert said that a delay of nearly two weeks before Vallone’s injury was evaluated at a burn unit was gross negligence and had increased the possibility of complications and the amount and duration of pain, as well as decreasing the likelihood of a good recovery.

“The affidavit of plaintiff’s expert is sufficient to demonstrate triable issues of fact regarding the appropriate standard of care and whether any departure by the defendant therefrom was the proximate cause of patient’s injuries,” Ferradino wrote. “The defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied.” 

The trial started on Tuesday before Justice Ann C. Crowell.  Further details will be posted here as they become available.

A search of the Albany Times Union and the Saratogian web pages produced no mention of the case.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Two new claims

Injuries from falls alleged
 in two hospital lawsuits

By David Baker
Posted July 11, 2014
221 word

A woman who alleges she received serious injuries when she fell from an operating table just after undergoing a colonoscopy and barium enema at Samaritan Hospital in Troy has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

According to the suit, Eve Mattice of Rensselaer County “…has been caused to suffer and sustain injuries to her head, body and limbs including but not limited to a comminuted fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the right foot, together with injuries both internal and external which may be of a permanent nature.”

The suit was filed on May 2 by attorney Robert A. Beecher of Albany.  Papers that would show who is defending the hospital were not available at the time the file was examined.

In the second case, Eleanor Brown of Rensselaer alleges that in November 2013 an employee or agent of defendant St. Peter’s Hospital was negligent when he or she attempted to move her from a bed or a chair without the assistance of a second person, as required by the hospital.  As a result, the suit says,  Brown fell to the floor, receiving “…extensive permanent physical, emotional and psychological injuries and damages.”

The suit also names St. Peter’s Health Care Services and St. Peter’s Health Partners. It was filed in December 2013 by the Latham law firm Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany.

Twitter: @answersforlisa