Christina Stueve Hodges Mar. 25, 2013, 11:29am

For a second time in four years, Madison County jurors have ruled for a Highland doctor accused of medical malpractice.

Following a week-long trial in Circuit Judge William Mudge's courtroom, jurors concluded at 8:11 p.m. on Friday that Dr. Jose Diaz, Jr. was not negligent in the death of Virginia Gettys, who died at the age of 43 in 2004.

The malpractice suit was originally filed in 2004 by Gettys's ex-husband, Russell Darbon of Edwardsville, on behalf of their children.

Plaintiff’s attorney Eric Carlson asked jurors to award his client $1.579 million during closing arguments Friday. He requested $73,000 for medical expenses, $6,400 in damages, and $750,000 for each of the two children.

According to the lawsuit, Diaz was responsible for Gettys when he admitted her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Highland, Jan. 16, 2004, as an attending physician.

Diaz has been accused of failing to diagnose Gettys' kidney infection; failing to recognize the urine showed evidence of a urinary tract infection; failing to obtain a urine culture when the initial urinalysis showed white cells and red cells in the urine; and performing a surgery that was unnecessary when CT scans showed no evidence of surgical pathology, and urinalysis showed signs of a urinary tract infection, the suit claims.

"Well obviously, on behalf of Dr. Diaz, we're pleased with the results," said defense attorney Timothy Richards. "I think it's a correct one. We're very appreciative of the jury for taking a week off of work. We think they got it absolutely right. Our heart goes out to the Darbon family, but we think the results are correct."

Carlson could not be immediately reached for comment.

This trial was the second one held in the case. In 2009, Diaz also prevailed at trial presided over by Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

Crowder had ordered a new trial on a plaintiff's post-trial motion after a defense expert violated a motion in limine during his testimony when he mentioned the word "leukemia."

Madison County case number 04-L-1427

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