$1.1 Million Award in Philadelphia Negligent-Death Case

A Superior Court jury awarded a Philadelphia widower $1.1 million this week, finding his wife died after receiving substandard care from a Newark cardiologist. The verdict by the jury in Wilmington against Dr. Ehsanur Rahman came late Thursday afternoon after about five hours of deliberations.

Wilmington News Journal
April  15, 2000
By Mary Allen

The jury ordered Rahman to pay $100,000 to the Estate of Mary Palmer and $1 million to her surviving husband, John Palmer.

“The verdict quite properly demonstrated the value this woman had to her husband and her family,” said Philadelphia lawyer Paul Lauricella, who represented John Palmer. The doctor could not be reached Friday.  But his attorney said the case is not over. “We intend to appeal and beyond that I can’t comment on anything,” said defense attorney Chandler Hosmer, also of Philadelphia.

Chest Pains Experienced

Mary Palmer was visiting her grandchildren in Bear in November 1996 when she experienced chest pain while using the bathroom, Lauricella said.  The 61-year-old woman went to Christiana Hospital, where an emergency room doctor diagnosed her with unstable angina, or chest pain of sudden onset, Lauricella said.

She was kept overnight and Dr. Rahman saw her the next day.  He administered a treadmill test, which came back normal, and decided to release her, attorneys on both sides said. But Mary Palmer died about five hours after she returned home.  Her husband found her. “How do you think he felt when he got into bed and found his wife cold and dead?” Lauricella asked the jury in his closing argument.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed in Superior Court

The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in Superior Court on May 22, 1998.  Judge Jerome O. Herlihy presided over the four-day trial, which began Monday. Lauricella suggested to the jury that Rahman should have kept Mary Palmer in the hospital, conducted more tests and administered blood-thinning medicine. The woman had a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, and a condition that thickened the walls of her heart.  Those risk factors, plus the emergency room doctor’s diagnosis, warranted extra precautions, Lauricella argued.

Rahman testified that he determined Mary Palmer’s chest pain was the result of a pulled muscle. Her pain lasted several hours and wasn’t helped by nitroglycerine–both factors that suggested she wasn’t suffering from unstable angina, Hosmer said.

Mary Palmer also underwent two electrocardiograms at the hospital.  Hosmer asked the jury to measure the quality of Rahman’s care under the conditions as the doctor saw them.

But the jury found Rahman was negligent in his care, which led to Mary Palmer’s death.

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