Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case

Rawle & Henderson partner Daniel J. Rucket and associate David J. Samlin obtained a defense verdict on June 8 after a 2 ½ week jury trial in Chester County, Pennsylvania on a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit.  Mr. Rucket represented an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility that was accused of negligence after AJ, a 23-year-old, 316-pound young man admitted for Oxycodone and Xanax addictions allegedly died of Torsades de Pointes, a specific type of abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death.  AJ had difficulty following instructions and fully participating in his detoxification and rehabilitation program while at the facility and claimed to be experiencing various medical problems.  He was sent to the Emergency Room at the local hospital twice and returned each time with a general diagnosis of substance abuse and without any new instructions for his care.  He was found unconscious on the floor of his room three days later and died.  AJ’s parents sued the facility, its Medical Director and psychiatrist, the hospital, and two of its ER doctors.  The hospital settled before the case first tried in November 2016.  At the close of Plaintiffs’ case at the first trial, the Honorable Mark L. Tunnell entered a nonsuit for all of the defendants based on the qualified immunity under Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act.  The Plaintiffs appealed.  The Superior Court remanded the case as to the ER doctors.  The Supreme Court remanded the case as to the facility and its doctors.  The second trial commenced on May 25, 2021 in the Historic Courthouse in West Chester.  After 10 days, the 12-person jury took under two hours to return a defense verdict for all defendants.

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