Alton doctor seeks reimbursement for defense costs in med-mal trial

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Jun 5, 2013

Attorneys on both sides of a Madison County med mal case that ended in a defense verdict in April have filed new briefs.

Dr. Bruce Vest of Alton is seeking about $50,000 in reimbursement for the cost of defending himself, while plaintiff’s attorneys seek a new trial, claiming testimony allowed at trial was unfairly introduced.

Vest was found not negligent in a family’s case against him and Orthopedic & Sports Medicine over the loss 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.

In a May 14 post-judgment motion for new trial, Fenlon and co-counsel David Wm. Horan say that court testimony regarding unwitnessed conversations Vest and his staff had with Tamara Kay Greco before her death violated the “Dead-Man’s Act.”

The Dead Man’s Act intends to remove a temptation to testify to matters that cannot be rebutted because of the death of the only other party to the conversation or witness to the event.

Fenlon and Horan argue that the defendants’ defense largely centered on warnings and instructions allegedly given to the decedent - Tamara Kay Greco.

The attorneys also say that the defense had a “surprise witness,” Kristen Jun, who testified that Greco had a family history of blood clotting disease.

“The admission of this surprise testimony was highly prejudicial and deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial,” the motion argued.

The family had assessed their loss of income damages between $697,000 and $752,000, depending on the age of Tamara Kay Greco’s retirement. She was employed as a legal secretary.

In his post trial motion, Vest is seeking reimbursement for court filing fees and for depositions of medical personnel and of the plaintiff James Greco, the surviving husband of Tamara Kay Greco, for a total of $3,383. Vest also is seeking reimbursement of $44,642.52 in attorney’s fees. He was represented by Don Weber and Philip Willman, both of St. Louis.

Madison County case number 11-L-140.

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