Malpractice trial alleging man died from neglect begins
An area physician will defend himself against allegations brought by the widow of David Wharton, who claims her husband "lingered in the hospital alone" until he died from a heart attack.
As previously reported, Carla Wharton filed suit against Drs. Michael Rotenberg and Msonthi Levine on Oct. 12, 2010, in Jefferson County District Court.
Jury selection for the trial of Wharton vs. Levine began Monday, May 14 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 60th District Court.
Levine is the sole defendant on trial, according to a courthouse official.
Court records show several more defendants were later added to the suit, including Christus Health System, Anita Rodenberg, Darla Dunn, Jefferson Emergency Medicine Associates, the Schumacher group of Texas, Wayne Margolis, Southeast Texas Heart & Vascular Center and Dominique Beaudry.
On June 24 Judge Sanderson granted the plaintiffs' motion for non-suit, dismissing Beaudry without prejudice, court papers say.
A few months later, the plaintiffs filed a notice of partial non-suit without prejudice on Nov. 7 for defendants Nunn, Jefferson Emergency Medicine Associates and the Schumacher group of Texas.
Rotenberg was non-suited on March 14, court records show.
According to the original petition, on Feb. 15, 2009, Wharton was brought to Jasper Memorial Hospital with complaints of chest pain and nausea. He was transferred to Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth in Beaumont for a higher level of treatment and accepted by Dr. Rotenberg as a patient. The following day he was also admitted to the service of internist Dr. Levine.
"Over 13 hours after arriving at the hospital ... David Wharton went into cardiac arrest and pronounced at 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2009," the suit states.
"At no time ... was he medically attended to and treated by Drs. Rotenberg and Levine. David Wharton literally lingered in the hospital alone until his fatal arrest."
Carla Wharton will try to convince jurors that Levine is guilty of neglect and that his treatment fell below the standard.
Richard Fass of the Perdue Kidd & Vickery law firm in Houston represents her. Stafford attorney James Edwards represents Levine.
Case No. B188-588