Iowa Jury Finds Nurse Anesthetist & Medical Group Negligent for Wrongful Death; Family Awarded $10 Million
Towards the end of 2014, Richard J. Pellock and his wife, Joann, waited nervously for his bladder test results. Pellock, then 80, had been experiencing pain during urination and the couple, married for 54 years, were hoping to rule out any life threatening ailments. But their worst fear was confirmed by the diagnosis of Pellock’s bladder cancer. The good news, at the time, was that the cancer was non-metastatic and was treatable. On January 5, 2015, Pellock underwent successful surgery, which removed all signs of the cancer.
Alex Horchak, the surgeon that performed the operation, scheduled a routine follow-up evaluation by Dr. Jacob Wagner on January 11, 2015. During that evaluation, Dr. Wagner noticed a possible injury to Pellock’s bowels and he wanted to rule out an anastomotic leak, which can be deadly. Wagner recommended an additional exploratory surgery. Pellock agreed and the operation was scheduled for later that same day. It was during that second procedure when things allegedly went fatally wrong.
According to a medical malpractice lawsuit, because of the alleged negligence of the nurse anesthetist, James Wieters, Richard J. Pellock died soon after the second surgery. The lawsuit claims that Wieters neglected the fact that Pellock had a full stomach and failed to follow safety procedures before induction of anesthesia. This claimed negligence allegedly led to Pellock drowning in his own vomit when the contents of his stomach overflowed into his lungs while he was sedated.
“I just keep thinking he should be here,” said his wife, Joann Pellock. “I was very hurt to think what happened to him in the hospital.”
After nearly three years of litigation, an Iowa jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding Wieters and Mississippi Valley Anesthesiology, P.C., the medical group that employs Wieters, liable for the wrongful death. The jury awarded the Pellock family $10,000,000.
“Fortunately, a good hearted and fair Iowa jury sided with Joann and Mitchell (Pellock’s son) and awarded them every penny they deserved,” said one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff. “In the end, while it won’t bring back their loving husband and father, they were able to receive a $10 million verdict for his wrongful death.”
After the trial the lawyers representing Mississippi Valley Anesthesiology, P.C. indicated that they will appeal the verdict.