Jurors award $549K verdict to widow for husband's death

David Yates Jun. 4, 2012, 8:39am


A Jefferson County jury recently found an area physician 1 percent negligent in causing the death of David Wharton, and opted to award Wharton's widow more than $549,000 in damages.

Plaintiff Carla Wharton filed suit against Drs. Michael Rotenberg and Msonthi Levine on Oct. 12, 2010, in Jefferson County District Court, alleging her husband "lingered in the hospital alone" until he died from a heart attack.

The trial of Wharton vs. Levine began May 14 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 60th District Court.

According to the charge of the court filed May 21, jurors found Dr. Levine 1 percent negligent in causing David Wharton's death, assigning the remaining 99 percent to Christus Hospital.

Jurors awarded Carla Wharton $207,746 for her pecuniary loss, $135,000 for her loss of companionship and $200,000 for her mental anguish.

An additional $200 was awarded for David Wharton's mental anguish before death and $6,778 for his funeral expenses, the charge states.

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."

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.

Richard Fass of the Perdue Kidd & Vickery law firm in Houston represents Carla Wharton.

Stafford attorney James Edwards represents Levine.

Case No. B188-588

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