United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
October 17, 2005.
MARY THERESE DUMBLE WILLIAMS, as Executrix of the Estate of ARTHUR EARL DUMBLE, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, d/b/a, a/k/a, and/or acting through the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS and the VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER, and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, individually, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge
This matter having been heard by the court as a
non-jury trial on August 24, 2005, we hereby make the
following findings of fact*fn1 and conclusions
I. Findings of fact
1) Plaintiff's decedent Arthur E. Dumble (hereinafter "Dumble")
was born on October 15, 1932.
2) Dumble was sixty-eight years of age when he presented
himself to Defendant Veterans Affairs Medical Center in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania ("VAMC") for treatment on February 3,
3) On February 3, 2001, Dumble presented himself to Defendant
VAMC where he conveyed complaints of burning pain in his chest
4) An EKG performed in the VAMC Emergency Department revealed
evidence of an old inferior wall infarct and definite up sloping
ST segment depression in leads I, VL, and V2 through V5. 5) Dumble's CPK was noted to be elevated to 640 and his
troponin I level was noted as being positive by K. Patel, M.D.,
the Emergency Department physician attending to him.
6) Therapy of sublingual nitroglycerin, subcutaneous Lovenox,
aspirin and nitroglycerin ointment was started in the Emergency
7) Medical resident A.K. Azad, M.D., examined Dumble on
February 4, 2001. He acknowledged Dumble's chest pain, abnormal
EKG and elevated cardiac enzymes, and he concluded that an acute
coronary syndrome had to be ruled out.
8) Azad's notes indicate that he discussed his findings with
Ashok Agarwal, M.D., by telephone and the Agarwal agreed with
Azad's plan of treatment and management.
9) Agarwal ordered repeated troponin levels to be drawn, but
the order was subsequently canceled.
10) Dumble was discharged from the VAMC on February 5, 2001 at
approximately 5:30 p.m.
11) Dumble went into cardiac arrest while being driven home by
his son only minutes after being discharged from the VAMC on
February 5, 2001.
12) Dumble was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital in
Wilkes-Barre at 6:16 p.m. on February 5, 2001.
13) Dumble suffered an acute non Q wave myocardial infarction
on or about February 3, 2003.
14) Dumble had a life expectancy of 82.6 years (Trial Dep. of
Brian P. Sullivan, Ph.D. ("Sullivan Dep.") at 13).
15) The net retirement income loss resulting from Dumble's
death is $110,595.00. (Def. Ex. 7, Verzilli and Verzilli Report,
16) Decedent's funeral related expenses are $8,967.78.(Pl. Ex.
9, p. 6).
17) Estate administration expenses in the instant case are
$2,285.35 (Pl. Ex. 9, p. 6).
II. Conclusions of law
1) We have jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1346(b), the Federal Torts Claim Act for medical malpractice
committed by the VAMC and its medical personnel and/or employees. 2) Defendant concedes that it breached the duty of care it owed
3) Under Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death Statute plaintiff is
entitled to recover damages for the death of an individual caused
by the wrongful act or neglect of another. 42 PA.C.S.A. §
4) Under the Wrongful Death Statute a plaintiff can recover,
"in addition to other damages, damages for reasonable hospital,
nursing, medical, funeral expenses and expenses of administration
necessitated by reason of injuries causing death." 42 PA.C.S.A. §
5) The Survival Act allows the plaintiff to recover for
decedent's pain and suffering from the time of the injury to
death. Frey v. Pennsylvania Elec. Co., 607 A.2d 796, 798
(Pa.Super.Ct. 1992). 42 PA.C.S.A. § 8302
6) We find that the plaintiff experienced pain and suffering.
When his son picked him up at the hospital, Dumble was speaking
very little. (N.T. Trial, Aug. 2, 2005 at 21). Evidently, Dumble
was uncomfortably hot as the temperature outside was below
freezing, and he nevertheless rolled down the window on the car.
(Id.). When the car stopped, he started to slide himself out,
his eyes rolled up in his head, he gasped twice and his head
dropped. (Id.). His son then threw him into a pile of snow and
began to perform CPR. (Id.).
Accordingly, we will award the following amounts to the
plaintiff: 1) Funeral expenses: $8,967.78; 2) Administrative
costs: $2,285.35; 3) Loss of net retirement income: $110,595.00;
and 4) Pain and suffering: $80,000.00.
An appropriate verdict follows. VERDICT
AND NOW, to wit, this 17th day of October 2005, the court's
verdict is as follows:
Defendant is liable to the plaintiff for the following amounts:
1) Funeral expenses: $8,967.78
2) Administrative costs: $2,285.35
3) Loss of net retirement income: $110,595.00
4) Pain and suffering: $80,000.00
Total amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff and against
the defendant: $201,848.13.
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