Family sues over man's death

By Justin Anderson | Apr 1, 2009

CHARLESTON – A man's estate is suing a local hospital and doctor over a lack of treatment it says resulted in the man's death.

Michael Dunnavant, the executor of the estate of Clarence Leroy Dunnavant, filed a lawsuit March 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Mountain State Medical Associates, St. Francis Hospital, Mountain Emergency Physicians and Paula Taylore, M.D.

The complaint says Clarence went to the St. Francis emergency room on May 19, 2007 complaining of a fever. He was admitted the next day.

During his stay at the hospital, Clarence developed a perforated ulcer and physicians failed to diagnosis it, the complaint says. The ulcer caused Clarence pain and suffering and ultimately his death, the complaint says.

On May 21, medical personnel at St. Francis ignored visual signs and family members' pleas that Clarence's health was deteriorating, the complaint says. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, there were no nurse notes related to Clarence's condition, the complaint says.

"More disturbing" was that Clarence was not visited by a physician until about 2:45 a.m. on May 22, the complaint says.

Clarence was transferred to the hospital's intensive care unit, "but it was too late."

The estate is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and legal costs.

The punitive damages are sought because "this total disregard for (Clarence's) health and well-being rise above mere negligence to the level of being intentional, willful, wanton and reckless as well as constituting gross negligence," the complaint says.

Michael J. DelGiudice is representing the plaintiff. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 09-C-405

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