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LAWRENCE J. WILLINGER v. MERCY CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTER SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA (10/06/78)

decided: October 6, 1978.

LAWRENCE J. WILLINGER, JR., ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF LEONARD WILLINGER, DECEASED, APPELLANT AT NO. 246,
v.
MERCY CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTER OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, FITZGERALD MERCY DIVISION, APPELLANT AT NO. 247, AND DR. MARTIN T. BRENNAN AND DR. JOSEPHINE L. GO



Nos. 246 and 247 January Term, 1977, Appeals from Judgment of Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 610 October Term, 1976, dated June 28, 1976, remanding case to Court of Common Pleas of the County of Delaware at No. 13819 of 1969 In Trespass.

COUNSEL

Beasley, Hewson, Casey, Colleran & Stopford, Jeffrey M. Stopford, Philadelphia, for Lawrence J. Willinger.

F. Kirk Adams, Stewart C. Crawford, Springfield, for Mercy Catholic Medical Center.

John S. J. Brooks, Media, for appellee, Brennan.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Larsen, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joins.

Author: Roberts

[ 482 Pa. Page 443]

OPINION OF THE COURT

A jury awarded appellant Lawrence J. Willinger, Jr., $455,199.75 in a wrongful death and survival action against appellee Mercy Catholic Medical Center. Appellant had

[ 482 Pa. Page 444]

    brought the action to recover for the death of his son, Leonard. The Superior Court, in a unanimous opinion, affirmed the lower court's order as to appellee's liability, but remanded for a new trial on the issue of damages. The Superior Court held the trial court's charge erroneous.*fn1 Lawrence Willinger and Mercy Catholic Medical Center each appealed from the Superior Court decision.*fn2

The facts giving rise to this controversy are not disputed. On June 2, 1969, appellant's five year old son, Leonard, entered Mercy Catholic Medical Center for a tonsillectomy. The medical records indicate that on the day of the operation he was in excellent health. In preparation for the surgery, Leonard was placed under anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist negligently administered the anesthesia. As a result, Leonard's heart stopped beating for a period of between four and twenty minutes. When the doctor who was to perform the operation arrived in the operating room,

[ 482 Pa. Page 445]

    he quickly revived Leonard's heartbeat. The prolonged cardiac arrest, however, caused Leonard to suffer serious brain damage, which, on July 23, 1969, caused his death.

Appellant Willinger urges this Court to reinstate the trial court's award of damages. The trial court's charge to the jury with regard to ...


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