Court upholds $300,000 Verdict in Weinberger case focusing on "Patient Abandonment"
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the first malpractice judgment against former Merrillville, Indiana nose doctor Mark Weinberger.
This suit is one of more than 350 medical malpractice claims that have been lodged against Mark Weinberger where it is alleged that he performed unnecessary or poorly performed surgeries.
The first malpractice judgment was awarded to Gary Indiana resident William Boyer who sued, claiming Weinberger did not perform the surgery that he said he was going to. Additionally, Weinberger operated on Boyer despite an abnormal heart condition. An irregular heartbeat was detected during pre-operative tests which Weinberger did not inform Boyer about. Boyer found out about the heart irregularity a year later when his heart was failing.
Post surgery, Boyer continued to have breathing problems and after consulting another doctor, Boyer discovered that he had been given the wrong surgery which made his breathing problems worse.
In August 2010, a Lake County Indiana jury awarded $300,000 to William Boyer. Weinberger appealed the ruling on several different points, but the appeals court ruled against them all.
Most significantly, the Indiana appellate court focused on the issue of “patient abandonment.” This issue has not been addressed in Indiana before but can be related to other medical abandonment cases.
Weinberger’s defense argued that patient abandonment is an independent tort, and out-of-state case law says the patient abandonment must happen at “a critical stage” of the medical care.
Boyer explained that the patient abandonment is a part of the underlying medical malpractice and exacerbated the malpractice. The court of appeals agreed and found the abandonment should be evaluated in light of the medical malpractice suit’s standard of care.
“As only a claim for medical malpractice was made and no separate tort claim for patient abandonment was raised, the Weinberger Entities’ motion for judgment on the evidence was not directed at a critical or essential element of the medical malpractice claim but rather at an underlying issue with respect to the standard of care,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote.