Med mal trial starts in Cueto's court
Attorneys questioned a courtroom full of jurors Monday in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto's courtroom over a five-year old medical malpractice lawsuit.
An obstetrician-gynecologist with Southern Obstetrics and Gynecologic Associates is being sued by a patient who claims the doctor "closed" before locating the source of bleeding after a hysterectomy.
Margie Kaiser and her husband Lamar Kaiser filed suit Dec. 13, 2007 in St. Clair County, claiming A. Doll-Pollard, M.D., failed to properly inspect the operative site prior to closing when she knew or should have known that bleeding was continuing.
Potential jurors were questioned over several hours about their careers and their spouses' and children's careers. They were also questioned about past experience with lawsuits and whether they could be unbiased jurors.
"I have never met a juror who can be fair and impartial on every case," Cueto said. "When I ask you if you can be fair and impartial, you are duty-bound to tell the truth. Your job is to judge the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence. This is not a criminal case. This is a civil lawsuit."
At least three jurors admitted that they could not be fair and impartial.
One potential juror said that she had an in-home day care, and five families wouldn't be able to work if she sat at trial for a week. Another potential juror said she had a spouse killed in a car accident and couldn't be fair and impartial. Another man admitted his wife was involved in a prior discrimination case.
According to the complaint, Kaiser suffered hypotension following surgery on Dec. 13, 2005.
"...[T]he patient received initial treatment for that hypotension with an infection of ephedrine," the complaint states.
"That the patient then developed atrial fibrillation and her blood pressure dropped to 54/43 and while all of this was occurring, Dr. Doll Pollard, believed as indicated in her discharge summary, that the patient was doing well and transferred to the patient to the floor..."
Kaiser claims her symptoms of internal bleeding went undiagnosed until a cardiologist at St. Joseph's Hospital recognized that she "was in serious difficulty" and transferred her to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.
"That at St. Elizabeth's the patient received life saving care, from a number of doctors, including Dr. Smith, a surgeon, who performed an exploratory surgery," the complaint said.
"That Dr. Smith found approximately 1000-1500 ccs of red blood in the plaintiff's abdomen, continued his exploration, and found the cause of the bleeding, which he describes as down in the pelvis anterior to the rectum and posterior to the bladder."
She claims the efforts of Smith and another doctor saved her life but they were unable to stop complications including infections, blood loss, loss of oxygen to the brain and other organs.
Kaiser claims Doll-Pollard allegedly failed to recognize that she suffered internal bleeding post-surgery and that she failed to recognize signs and symptoms of hypotension and atrial fibrillation which were caused by the internal blood loss.
Margie Kaiser seeks an excess of $50,000 in damages from Doll-Pollard and Southern Obstetrics and Gynecologic Associates. Lamar Kaiser seeks more than $50,000 in damages, claiming he suffered a decrease in society with his wife and has incurred medical expenses.
Doll-Pollard admits she provided treatment to Kaiser but denies the malpractice allegations.
Madelyn J. Lamb and Dawn A. Sallerson of Hinshaw & Culbertson in Belleville represent the defense.
John Womick of the Womick Law Firm represents the plaintiff.
The trial is expected to last through next Tuesday.
St. Clair County case number 07-L-564.