Med-mal suit against Anderson anesthesiologists gets quick boot

By Steve Gonzalez | Feb 28, 2008

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder

Jurors took just two hours to clear two Maryville anesthesiologists of any wrongdoing in a medical malpractice trial that had nearly lasted four weeks.

Ernest McCray filed the suit in 2001 on behalf of Christina McCray, a disabled adult, against Dr. Timothy Kurt and Dr. Gregory Collins. Ms. McCray was a patient of Kurt, the head of the anesthesia department at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

Attorney Drew Baebler of St. Louis for McCray asked the jury to award her between $19 and $23 million. He argued that Ms. McCray had been over-sedated by the anesthesia team, including Kurt and Collins, causing her to become bradycardic, hypotensive and hypoxic which caused severe and permanent brain damage.

Ms McCray is now in a coma and will remain so for the rest of her life.

Supporting McCray's financial claim, Baebler argued that the cost of Ms. McCray's future medical care will be in the millions of dollars and that she has lost the ability to communicate and share her life with her sons. He also argued that she has lost the ability to earn income and fringe benefits for her family.

Jan Klosterman, a certified life care nurse planner, testified that McCray's medical bills could be as high as $8.4 million if she lives another 30 years. She also testified that McCray will need 24-hour nursing care for the rest of her life.

Klosterman said McCray needs 24-hour care to manage her airway and to control seizures. She also testified that McCray is in a state of unconsciousness, does not respond to stimuli, is on oxygen and needs a feeding tube for nutrition.

McCray's other needs include seeing doctors specializing in eight different areas of medicine, such as neurology, podiatry and infectious disease. She is sometimes hospitalized due to respiratory and urinary infections.

Klosterman testified that McCray's future medical costs would range between $220,000 and $283,029 per year.

During the trial Baebler also tried to show that the pair failed on a number of professional counts while supervising and performing anesthesia on Ms. McCray. Other defendants in the suit were dismissed prior to the commencement of the trial on Feb. 4.

But the jury quickly ruled that the defending doctors did not deviate from the standard of care in McCray's case. Kurt was represented Jeffrey Glass, while co-defendant Collins was represented by Tim Richards.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presided over the case.

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