Widow gets $1M for husband's death

By Justin Anderson | Jun 3, 2009

HUNTINGTON -- A Cabell County jury awarded a woman more than $1 million after her husband died on an operating table at St. Mary's Medical Center.

The jury on May 22 gave Barbara Rooney $850,000 in economic damages and $185,000 in non-economic damages related to the April 6, 2005, death of her husband Michael Rooney.

Barbara in 2007 filed the suit in Cabell Circuit Court against the hospital, University Physicians and Surgeons, a health care provider linked to Marshall University, Huntington Emergency Physicians Group and six individual doctors.

The widow's lawyer, Dr. Richard Lindsay, said the plaintiff settled with the hospital, the terms of which are confidential. Dr. Benjamin Lee Moosavi was dismissed prior to trial pursuant to a motion for summary judgment.

According to the verdict form, the jury found surgeons Jack Richard Traylor and Jeffrey Kirk Grynwald liable for Michael Rooney's death after a weeklong trial.

The remaining defendants were dismissed from the case, Lindsay said.

According to the initial complaint, Michael Rooney came to St. Mary's on April 5, 2005, complaining of bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain brought on by a bout of coughing. The complaint said Michael, 50, had fallen some weeks prior and injured his left side.

Doctors in the emergency room noted that Michael was slightly pale, had decreased breath sounds while sitting and complained of tenderness over his left lower ribs.

A CT scan later showed he had a ruptured spleen, thrombosis of the abdominal aorta, right renal ischemia and evidence of bowel ischemia, the complaint says.

Michael was taken into an operating room for a diagnostic and exploratory laparotomy. He was sedated and intubated. While his abdomen was being prepped for surgery, Michael died, the complaint says.

The plaintiff contended the physicians were negligent in failing to timely test, diagnose and operate on her husband, causing his death.

The jury agreed. The case was before Senior Status Judge Robert Chafin from adjacent Wayne County.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 07-C-996

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