Madison - St. Clair Record

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Defense verdict reached in wrongful death lawsuit against Alton doc

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Apr 16, 2013

Bio fenlon

A Madison County jury has sided with an Alton doctor in a wrongful death trial in Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian's court.

The verdict was reached Tuesday afternoon.

James Greco claimed Dr. Bruce Vest, M.D. and Orthopedic & Sports Medicine were negligent in the care of Tamara Kay Greco, who sought treatment from Vest for a sprained ankle injury in 2004.

Plaintiff’s attorney Gregory Fenlon of St. Louis described Greco as dying from a pulmonary embolism due to a blood clot, which developed from immobility. She was 36.

The family has assessed its loss of income damages at between $697,000 and $752,000, depending the age of her retirement, Fenlon said.

During closing arguments Tuesday morning, Fenlon said Greco died a needless and preventable death.

“These kids deserve their mom,” he said. “This case is no different than a negligence case involving an automobile accident.”

According to Fenlon, Greco went to the emergency room the night she was injured and called the doctor and received an evaluation. At the time, Greco had three risks: she was considered medically obese, had trauma and was on birth control.

Fenlon informed the jury that of three degrees of sprained ankles, “Mrs. Greco had the worst.”

“This is not a coordinated medical office," Fenlon said. "These people are not on the same page. These people did now know what the other was supposed to do. How much more clear can you get in a negligence case. They don’t understand what the other one is doing.”

He said that employees failed to give Mrs. Greco warnings that she was at risk for suspected deep vein thrombosis.

Fenlon also said that Vest should have ordered an ultrasound/sonography.

“There’s a 90 percent chance if he had done an ultrasound, she would be here today,” he said.

But according to defense attorney Philip Wilman, the jury had been hearing accusations from the plaintiff that Vest "should have known the unknown.”

“She was more likely to be struck by lightning than to die of a blood clot from a sprained ankle,” Wilman said.

According to testimony at trial, Vest did a full physical review of Greco, Wilman said.

“What they have experienced was a terrible loss," he said.

"You promised you would set aside sympathy and decide this case based on what the facts are."

Vest had thought about the possibility of a blood clot, according to Wilman.

“There’s no evidence that she had a blood clot on May 5, (2004)” Wilman said. “Dr. Vest should have predicted the unpredictable is what they’ve been talking about the last six to seven days."

Don Weber of St. Louis also represents the defense.

David William Horan also represents the plaintiff.

Madison County case number 11-L-140.

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