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Christina Campbell vs. Kaiser Permanente Medical Group


CASE TYPE: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death

RESULT: Arbitration award: $1,064,080

COUNTY: Los Angeles

CASE NO: Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. KC057640

CASE NAME: Christina Campbell vs. Kaiser Permanente Medical Group

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: John P. Blumberg, Esq. of Blumberg Law Corporation,
Long Beach

DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Brian Birnie and Michael Bazzo of LaFollette,
Johnson, DeHass, Fesler & Ames, Los Angeles

PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERTS: William French, M.D. (Cardiology, Torrance)
James D. Leo, M.D. (Internal medicine, Long Beach)
Peter Formuzis, Ph.D (Economist, Santa Ana)

DEFENDANTS’ EXPERTS: Jeffery Salberg, M.D. (Internal medicine, Tarzana)
Daniel Wohlgelernter, M.D. (Cardiology, Santa Monica)
Constantine Boukidis (Economist, Los Angeles)
Steven Molina, Ph.D. (Voc Rehab (Santa Ana)
Mark Speakman, M.D. (Treating cardiologist)
Tin Tran, M.D. (Treating internist)
David Sullivan (Treating internist)

FACTS: Scott Campbell, age 42, was the patient of Dr. David Sullivan at Kaiser -
Baldwin Hills. Although Campbell had several cardiac risk factors, including
hypertension, overweight, smoker, and elevated cholestrol, Dr. Sullivan did not prescribe
statin drugs that would have lowered cholestrol. In 2009, Campbell underwent a
treadmill stress EKG which was negligently read as negative. Approximately six months
later, he began having chest pain when resting and during exertion. A few days later, he
was seen in Kaiser Urgent Care by Dr. Tran, who read the 6-month old stress EKG report,
saw that it was normal, and decided that the chest pain was of a muscular, and not
cardiac, origin. That night, however, Campbell died of a heart attack.

PER PLAINTIFF: Plaintiff argued three separate theories of liability: (1) that
Dr. Sullivan had been negligent in his treatment of Campbell by failing to prescribe statin
drugs that would have likely prevented the build-up of plaque in the coronary vessels; (2)
that Dr. Speakman negligently read a positive treadmill stress EKG as negative, resulting
in the non-treatment of his cardiac condition that would have likely prevented the
worsening of his coronary artery disease; and (3) Dr. Tran failed to rule out the cardiac
origin of the chest pain. Had the correct diagnosis have been made, Campbell would
have received prompt treatment with medication, bedrest, monitored bed, and cardiac
catheterization that would have prevented his death.

PER DEFENDANT: (1) The standard of care did not require that Dr. Sullivan
prescribe statins for hyperlipidemia; (2) the stress EKG was not positive, rather, it was
negative; and (3) Dr. Tran was not negligent in his evaluation but even if Campbell had
been hospitalized, he still would have suffered a fatal heart attack.
INJURY: Death at age 42.

SETTLEMENT OFFERS: None. Kaiser refused to mediate.

ARBITRATOR: Darrell A. Forgey, Esq. (Judicate West)

RESULT: The arbitrator found that Dr. Sullivan had been negligent in his internal
medical care of the decedent by not prescribing statins, and that Dr. Speakman was
negligent in reading a positive EKG as negative, and that their actions resulted in
Campbell’s fatal heart attack. The arbitrator found that Dr. Tran was not negligent in his
evaluation of Campbell’s chest pain.

DAMAGES AWARDED: $1,165,675 (Present value of lost earnings)
$ 250,000 (Non-economic damages, per MICRA)
$ 2,324 (Funeral expense)

The arbitrator decreased the above award by 25% to account for the decedent’s
contributory negligence in neglecting his health by smoking and eating habits.

FINAL AWARD: $1,064,080