In awarding $3 million to estate of Connecticut man, jury in medical malpractice case sites his cardiologist’s negligence in examining test results.
The verdict against Dr. Dariush Owlia and in favor of plaintiff Cynthia Olsen, the wife of Andrew J. Olsen and executor of his estate, was delivered late Wednesday following six days of testimony at Superior Court in Hartford, according to Olsen’s lawyer, James Horwitz of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder.
“Cindy and her family are gratified that the jury held Dr. Owlia responsible,” said Horwitz, who tried the medical malpractice case with colleague Kathleen Nastri. “It’s an important result.” Attorney Thomas Boyce of Halloran & Sage, who represented Owlia, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. Owlia has since retired, Horwitz said. The lawsuit named Olsen’s general practitioner, Dr. Stephen Bryant, but Bryant was not a defendant in the trial, Horwitz said. He wouldn’t say if Bryant had settled out of court. Although Bryant was no longer a defendant, the jury determined that he was liable for 60 percent of the $3 million, and that Owlia was liable for 40 percent — which means that Owlia will have to pay $1.2 million. According to the lawsuit, Olsen, who was 67 when he died in May 2009, suffered from a heart condition called aortic stenosis, a progressive disease that causes the aortic valve’s opening to narrow. On Jan. 24, 2008, Bryant ordered an echocardiogram for Olsen, and the doctor who interpreted the results noted that the aorta stenosis looked more severe in the ultrasound images than the measurements indicated. Bryant referred Olsen to Owlia, the cardiologist, who ordered a stress test for Olsen. The test did not show defects but revealed a reduction in heart function, according to the lawsuit. Owlia failed to look at the echocardiogram images or order a new echocardiogram, but instead sent Olsen back to Bryant without recommending treatment for aortic stenosis, the lawsuit said. He suggested that Olsen take medication, the suit said. Olsen’s condition was stable for the rest of 2008, but early in 2009, he developed breathing problems, leg edema — or a buildup of excess water — and other problems, the suit said. Bryant prescribed larger doses of diuretics, which increase the excretion of water, it said. In late April, Bryant sent Olsen for another echocardiogram, which showed worsening of the aortic stenosis, the suit said. After his condition deteriorated further, he was admitted to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, and several days later was transferred to Hartford Hospital, where doctors inserted a balloon into the valve to widen it, the suit said. Although the valve was seriously narrow, valve replacement surgery was deemed to be too risky, the suit said. Olsen died. Both doctors should have looked at the images of the Jan. 24, 2008, echocardiogram themselves and ordered a new one, and Olsen should have been admitted to a hospital sooner, the plaintiffs argued during the trial. “One of the things that happened during the course of the trial is that Dr. Bryant was called by [Dr. Owlia’s lawyer] and accepted responsibility on the witness stand,” Horwitz said. “And Dr. Owlia continued to deny responsibility.” “The jury, in fact, said Dr. Owlia was partially responsible, and now it’s time for him to accept responsibility.” Originally posted by Christine Dempsey in The Hartford Courant. Medical Malpractice Case Representation – Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney – Los Angeles