Med mal suit refiled against Dalla Riva

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 3, 2006

Circuit Judge Don Weber

Fifteen days after voluntarily dismissing a medical malpractice case against a Maryville doctor, St. Louis attorney David Damick re-filed the suit in Madison County Circuit Court.

Damick dismissed the suit he filed on behalf of Mary Baugus of Bethalto against James Dalla Riva, M.D. on Sept. 14, because Circuit Judge Don Weber denied his motion for a substitution of judge earlier in the day.

Weber denied Damick's motion because he thought the purpose was to delay the trial. The case was scheduled for a jury trial on Sept. 18.

At the motion hearing, 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, who refiled the suit Sept. 29, 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."

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.

Baugus initially filed suit Dec. 27, 2003, claiming she was caused great physical injury and has endured great physical and mental pain and suffering because Dalla-Riva allegedly performed a total hysterectomy without medical justification.

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.

Circuit Judge Lola Maddox was assigned the re-filing by Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis.

Damick had one year to re-file the suit.

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