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Grant High player's mother files wrongful death suit

Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) - Friday, March 3, 2006
Author: JOHN KILLEN, The Oregonian
SUMMARY: Eddie Barnett Jr., who had been diagnosed with a heart condition, died during a game last year

An attorney for the mother of Eddie Barnett Jr., the Grant basketball player who died after collapsing during a game at Madison on Feb. 23, 2005, has filed a wrongful death suit against the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Oregon Health & Science University.

The suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of Christeen "Teena" Johnson, alleges the defendants were negligent in their treatment of her son and "failed to use that degree of care, skill and diligence used by ordinarily careful physicians."

The suit also says the defendants were wrong to release her son "to play competitive sports despite the decedent's diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy" and "in changing (the) decedent's diagnosis from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to hypertension."

Johnson referred questions about the suit to her attorney, Steven Goldberg.

Goldberg said Thursday he preferred not to talk about the case beyond what was in the filing. But asked about the fact the filing came more than a year after Barnett's death, he said, "We take these cases very, very seriously and have spent much of the year evaluating the records" relating to the case. He added that "there are a lot" of medical records relating to Barnett's care.

He also said the suit was not aimed at those who cared for Barnett after his collapse. Individuals named as defendants in the case are Drs. Paul C. Droukas and Seshadri Balaji.

OHSU issued a short comment.

"Out of respect for patient privacy and the legal process, OHSU rarely comments on pending lawsuits , but we are committed to high quality care for our patients and we join the community in mourning the loss of Eddie Barnett," wrote Jonathan Modie, senior communications coordinator for OHSU, on Thursday.

Modie said the hospital would not comment further.

The suit asks for economic damages of $1.6 million, burial and memorial expenses of $14,446 and noneconomic damages --defined as deprivation of companionship, society, support, love, affection and guidance --of $2.5 million.

Barnett, 16, was a 5-foot-8 junior guard for the Generals.

Witnesses to the incident said he came out of the game with about five minutes left in the second quarter, went to the end of the Grant bench and collapsed.

The game was stopped; paramedics arrived and began life support. They took Barnett to Providence Portland Medical Center, where he died at 9:59 p.m.

At the time, Grant officials said they knew that Barnett had a heart condition and that he was on medication, but said that he had been given a medical waiver to play sports.

John Killen: 503-221-8538;
Edition: Sunrise
Section: Sports
Page: D05
Record Number: MERLIN_7561718
Copyright (c) 2006 Oregonian Publishing Co.