Suit against Heartland Regional Medical Center seeks $30 million in punitives

Kelly Holleran Mar. 27, 2009, 1:55am

A woman is seeking more than $30 million in punitive damages over her husband's death after she claims hospital administrators lied to her about having a cardio-thoracic surgeon available at the time of his surgery.

In complaint filed March 25 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Barbara Woodward says her husband, James Woodward, died after complications during his surgery at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion.

James Woodward went to the hospital to have a cardiac catherization and an elective percutaneous cardiology intervention performed on Sept. 2, 2005.

Before the surgery, hospital officials promised the Woodwards that a cardio-thoracic surgeon would be at the hospital if any complications should arise, Barbara Woodward says. However, hospital officials knew there was not one available.

"Defendant's conduct was intentional, willful and wanton," the suit states.

During James Woodward's procedure, complications occurred that a cardio-thoracic surgeon could have attended to if there had been one at the hospital, according to the complaint.

In addition, James Woodward was not allowed to be transported by helicopter to another hospital because he had a balloon pump, the suit states.

As a result he died on Oct. 1, 2005.

Before his death, James Woodward suffered a myocardial infarcation, suffered permanent pain, mental anguish, disability and disfigurement and incurred medical costs, the complaint says. He was also was prevented from attending to his usual duties and affairs.

Because of James Woodward's death, his family have been deprived of his love, companionship and society and have incurred medical costs, they claim.

In the four-count suit, Barbara Woodward is seeking a judgment in excess of $150,000, compensatory damages of more than $150,000 and punitive damages of more than $30 million, plus costs.

Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0155.

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