Mother dies shortly after giving birth at hospital. $10.8M. San Bernardino County.

Summary

36-year-old mother experienced profound uterine bleeding after C-section delivery. She was transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and then the ICU.  Plaintiffs claimed negligent treatment led to her death.

The Case

  • Case Name: Yingzhi Li, Cathy Li, Gloria Li and Grace Li v. Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Inc., Grand Medical Group Ob/Gyn, Inc., Nicolaas Martin Grobler, M.D., Inland Pulmonary Medical Group, Montclair Hospital Medical Center, Prime Healthcare Montclair, LLC, and Philong V. Ta, M.D.
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1621591
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, October 17, 2019
  • Type of Action: Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David S. Cohn
  • Plaintiffs:
    Yingzhi Li and minor children
  • Defendants:
    Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D.
    Montclair Hospital Medical Center
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $10,850,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    100% against hospital. Dr. Lee received a 12-0 defense verdict.

  • Economic Damages:

    $2,850,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $8,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 direct liability and vicarious liability through ostensible agency against the hospital; 10-2 in favor of plaintiffs on non-economic and economic damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Michels & Lew by Philip Michels and Elizabeth A. Hernandez, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Herbert Hafif by Gregory K. Hafif, Claremont. (For Prime Healthcare Montclair, LLC dba Montclair Hospital Medical Center.)

    Carroll, Kelly, Trotter, Franzen & McBride by Jennifer L. Sturges, Long Beach. (For Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Inc. dba Grand Medical Group Ob/Gyn, Inc.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Benjamin D. Hamar, M.D., maternal fetal medicine.

    Michael H. Rosove, M.D., hematology.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Maurice L. Druzin, M.D., maternal fetal medicine.

    Nathan T. Gilmore, M.D., MBA, critical care.

    Kenneth A. James, M.D., obstetrics/gynecology.

    (All medical experts for Dr. Lee.)

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Daryl R. Zengler, MA, CEA, economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Weiner, M.B.A., economics. (For Dr. Lee.)

    David Weiner, M.B.A. (For defendant hospital.)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On July 2, 2016, plaintiffs' decedent Qiao Chen, 36, was pregnant with twins. She arrived at Montclair Hospital at near term and the twins were delivered by urgent C-section. During the C-section, the mother experienced profound uterine bleeding immediately after delivery. She was transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where plaintiffs claimed her severe bleeding continued, her vital signs deteriorated, and she went into hemorrhagic shock.  Red blood cells and fluids were given. Efforts were made by the delivering obstetrician (Dr. Lee) to obtain more blood products but they were not promptly available.

    The patient was placed in the ICU where her vital signs (pulse and blood pressure) continued to worsen. The obstetrician (Dr. Lee) urged an immediate hysterectomy to stop the source of the bleeding. After the patient was transferred to the ICU, the anesthesiologist (Dr. Ta) left the hospital for another case at a different hospital and there was no other anesthesiologist present. The hospital permitted Dr. Ta to be on call at two hospitals at one time. A hysterectomy was eventually performed. Due to post-partum bleeding and insufficient resuscitation with blood products, Qiao Chen developed Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). She was pronounced dead on July 4, 2016.

    Plaintiffs, decedent's husband and three minor daughters, sued Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Thomas Tuan-Tong Lee, M.D., Inc., Grand Medical Group Ob-Gyn, Nicolaas Martin Grobler, M.D., Inland Pulmonary Medical Group, Montclair Hospital Medical Center, Prime Healthcare Montclair, LLC, and Philong V. Ta, M.D.

    Dr. Ta settled out. The case only continued to trial against the hospital and Dr. Lee.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs' counsel contended the patient needed operative intervention much sooner to stop the uterine bleeding. Plaintiffs' counsel contended the blood bank in the hospital did not promptly deliver the needed blood products (packed red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma). The hospital also failed to perform lab tests to assess the extent of the patient’s bleeding problems (they were done on the wrong blood sample and misled the physician who ordered them).

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The hospital contended the death was due to the negligence of other physicians, including the anesthesiologist for failing to promptly respond to and manage the evolving shock.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Death; loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support; loss of training and guidance; loss of financial support; the reasonable value of household services

    The hospital's counsel contended the loss of support caused by the death should be offset by Social Security death benefits. Additionally, defense counsel contended the discount rate for economic loss should be based on the average discount rate of the last 100 years not the much different rate of the last 30 years, which plaintiffs contended.

  • Insurer: Desert Valley Insurance, Ltd. (For the hospital.)

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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