Judge signs off on $549K final judgment in med-mal

David Yates Jul. 9, 2012, 10:48am


Last Friday, a Beaumont judge signed off on a final judgment of more than a half million dollars in a medical malpractice case.

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

In May a Jefferson County jury found defendant Dr. Levine 1 percent negligent in causing the death of David Wharton, and opted to award his widow more than $549,000 in damages.

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

Judge Sanderson signed off on the final judgment on July 6.

As of July 9 the judgment is not yet on file but the judge said the judgment was based on the jury's findings.

According to the charge of the jury, 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.

The original petition states that 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."

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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