Paul Oden, 49, underwent surgery to replace his mitral valve. The operation was performed by cardiothoracic surgeon Arun Singh and anesthesiologist Carl Schwartz, who served as an echocardiographer during the procedure. After Singh placed a suture near Oden’s aortic valve, Schwartz allegedly inspected the site and reported that there were no problems. The surgery was then completed. Five weeks later, Oden developed problems. He underwent testing and was later told that he required surgery to replace his aortic valve and place a Dacron patch on his aorta. He will now require additional surgeries every ten to 12 years.
Oden and his wife sued Singh, alleging that he misplaced a stitch, which caused Oden’s aortic valve to malfunction. Suit also alleged that Schwartz failed to properly inspect the aortic valve using an echocardiography machine. Suit did not claim lost income.
The plaintiffs settled with Singh before trial for an undisclosed amount. The jury awarded $1.5 million, finding Singh 75 percent liable and Schwartz, 25 percent at fault. The court denied a defense motion for new trial, and the case is currently on appeal.
Citation: Oden v. Schwartz, No. PC 07-267 (R.I., Providence Co. Super. Feb. 17, 2011).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member David Morowitz, Providence, Rhode Island.