Home > Verdicts and Settlements

$1,000,000 Recovery in Wrongful Death Pulmonary Embolism Case

Harris v. Frankel, et al.


After more than 3 weeks of trial Daryl L. Zaslow, Esq. of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP (Edison, Red Bank and Toms River) obtained a $1,000,000 settlement on behalf the Estate of a 45-year-old man who died from a pulmonary embolism 7 days after undergoing a bariatric surgery. Mr. Zaslow was assisted at trial by Thomas Rinaldi, Esq. of his firm. The settlement was reached for the Defendant’s policy limits as the jury was deliberating in a case tried in Bergen County before the Honorable John D. O’Dwyer, J.S.C.

Willie Harris was 45 years old when he presented to Holy Name Medical Center on April 3, 2013 for the laparoscopic repair of his lap-band and for the repair of a hernia, which was caused by the lap-band slipping. The lap-band was originally placed in 2004. Although the surgery was successful, 3 days later, as Mr. Harris was getting ready to be discharged, he developed atrial fibrillation and subsequent tests including a venous Doppler scan and CT Angiogram confirmed he had sustained a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. Defendant Dr. Zev Frankel was a cardiologist brought in to help treat the deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. The Defendant treated Mr. Harris with therapeutic anticoagulation in the form a Xarelto. Despite this treatment, Mr. Harris died from a massive pulmonary embolism on April 10, 2013 as he was attempting to leave the hospital.

Mr. Zaslow argued that that the Defendant deviated from the accepted standards of care by choosing not to call in a vascular surgeon to implant an inferior vena cava filter (“IVC filter”). An IVC filter is a small cone shaped device that is placed in the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the human body, and is designed to act as a safety net by preventing large clots that break apart from a deep vein thrombosis from reaching the heart and lungs. Mr. Zaslow and the plaintiff’s experts also maintained that an IVC filter was required as the deep vein thrombosis Mr. Harris had was “free floating” and because his lungs were already vulnerable from the prior pulmonary emboli he sustained.

The Defendant’s experts maintained that the Defendant’s decision not to order an IVC filter was consistent with the controlling National CHEST Guidelines and the standard of care. They further maintained that using an IVC filter in this setting would have been a departure from the accepted standards of care and violated the controlling national standards and guidelines used by virtually every hospital in the country.

At the time of his death, Mr. Harris left surviving a 50-year-old wife and 2 sons, ages 16 and 13.  Mr. Harris had been employed by New Jersey Transit and Plaintiff’s economic damages were between $974,000-1.6 million.

The Defendant was insured by Conventus Inter-Insurance Exchange under a policy with $1 million limits. Mr. Zaslow demanded the $1 million insurance policy limits of the Defendant, which were finally tendered at summations.

Dr. Frankel was represented at trial by Sean Buckley, Esq. of Buckley Theroux Kline & Petraske, LLC of Princeton.