Med mal attorney dismisses suit for fear of Judge Weber

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 14, 2006, 12:55pm

An attorney who lost a med mal case in federal court last week dismissed a Madison County med mal suit that was on the brink of going to trial because Circuit Judge Don Weber denied a motion for change of judge.

Three days before trial was set to begin, David Damick of St. Louis dismissed Mary Baugus' complaint against Dalla-Riva, M.D. of Maryville. Her suit alleged Dalla-Riva performed a total hysterectomy without medical justification.

At a motion hearing Thursday, Damick admitted that he did not know Weber and did not have an opinion about him, but informed Weber that other attorneys told him that he should file a change.

He also admitted he was ready to go to trial, telling Weber that the plaintiff's experts were paid, hotel rooms were booked and plane tickets reserved.

Damick said he based his decision on the political endorsement Weber received from a doctor's political action committee --SMASH-- and that Weber's campaign material states he would "weed out med-mal suits." Weber is running for election in November.

"I told the SMASH doctors when they met with me that I would give them a fair trial," Weber responded. "And I give you my word, in my courtroom on Monday morning you will receive a fair trial."

Weber denied Damick's motion because he thought the purpose was to delay the trial. After Weber's ruling, Damick apparently drove back to his office and drafted a voluntary dismissal.

A hearing on the motion to dismiss was waived because Michael Pitzer of St. Louis, Dalla-Riva's attorney, agreed to the motion to dismiss.

Damick has one year to re-file the case.

Baugus filed suit Dec. 27, 2003, claiming she was caused great physical injury and has endured great physical and mental pain and suffering.

She also claimed injury to her bladder, peritoneum and vagina, and she claimed increased infections, abdominal pain and distress, small bowel obstructions, scarring and vesicovaginal fistula which caused her to undergo additional medical and surgical treatments.

According to her complaint, Baugus claims she is required to wear adult diapers due to incontinence, and that she has been required to get catheterizations and make adjustments to her daily life to accommodate her medical disability.

Baugus claimed Dalla-Riva removed both ovaries and tubes because he improperly interpreted a pelvic ultrasound or accepted notations which were unreliable and inaccurate.

She claimed Dalla-Riva improperly prepared for surgery because he failed to evaluate for bladder and ureteral integrity at the conclusion of surgery on Jan. 4, 2002.

The suit also claimed Dalla-Riva failed to suture the anterior peritoneal edge behind the bladder to the anterior cuff and failed to take steps to impose another layer of tissue between the bladder surface and the vaginal vault.

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