New trial sought in med mal case against Gingrich

Steve Korris Apr. 18, 2007, 12:00pm

Nick Byron

Madison County jurors cleared physician Tina Gingrich in a malpractice trial, but plaintiff Wendy Wiggins now seeks to reverse the verdict.

In an April 10 post trial motion for Wiggins, Patricia Zimmer of Belleville told Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron he abused his discretion at trial.

Zimmer wrote that Byron allowed prejudicial evidence and testimony.

Wiggins sued Gingrich and her clinic, Maryville Women's Center, in 2004.

She claimed Gingrich failed to diagnose her cancer.

In her second count she sought compensation for the lost opportunity to have cancer treatment covered by health insurance.

Byron held trial Monday through Friday, March 5 to March 9.

Trouble started when Gingrich's attorney, Ransom Wuller, called insurance salesman James Kropf as witness.

Zimmer objected but Byron allowed the testimony.

Wuller introduced as evidence a health insurance application that Wiggins submitted to American Family Insurance after her visit to the clinic.

Zimmer objected but Byron admitted the application.

On the application, Wiggins had not reported her visit to Gingrich.

When Wiggins testified, Wuller asked on cross examination about the American Family application and communication that followed it.

Zimmer objected but Byron allowed the cross examination.

Zimmer argued in her post trial motion that nothing could explain the verdict except Byron's error.

"It was undisputed at trial that plaintiff had insurance at the time of her office visit with the defendant, and did not have such health insurance coverage at the time of her cancer treatment nine months later," Zimmer wrote.

"The only possible reason for the jury to fail to compensate plaintiff on this count is the prejudicial effect of the insurance application with American Family," she wrote.

"The improper admission of this evidence allowed the defense attorney to then argue at closing that the plaintiff was a liar, which is an improper leap and one that the jury obviously took," she wrote.

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