Wrongful Death - Failure to Diagnose Respiratory Distress

Negligent failure to recognize respiratory distress resulting in the wrongful death of a 17-year old patient.
Amount of Settlement
Plaintiffs’ Attorney
Marc L. Breakstone
Boston, Massachusetts
Suffolk Superior Court
Details of the Case

This was a claim for wrongful death on behalf of a 17-year old troubled youth who was an in-patient at a home for troubled youths.  The 17-year old plaintiff had been placed in the defendant’s facility as a result of significant emotional problems and drug abuse.  The patient had in the year prior to her death shown great improvement in her functioning, motivation and compliance.  She was at the time of her death preparing to apply to college and had recently successfully taken the SAT examination. 

On the morning of her death in February 2001, a mental health counselor employed by the defendant institution was required to perform observation checks every five minutes to ensure that the plaintiff was safe and secure.  On one of those checks, the defendant mental health counselor observed that the plaintiff was having significant respiratory difficulties.  Despite seeing the young woman with labored breathing and altered facial coloration, the mental health counselor failed to intervene.  Approximately 45 minutes later, a second mental health counselor observed the plaintiff in significant distress and called for assistance.  A code blue was called, and emergency resuscitation commenced.  Despite these life-saving measures, the patient died.

The basis for the wrongful death claim against the clinic and the mental health worker was the failure of the mental health worker to take action after observing the patient with compromised breathing at approximately 8:30 a.m.  Plaintiffs were prepared to present expert testimony from an emergency physician, a cardiologist and a neurologist to the effect that had CPR begun shortly after the first observation of respiratory distress, more likely than not, the plaintiff would have been successfully resuscitated.  As a result of the negligence of the mental health worker and the clinic that employed him, the plaintiff died. 

Client Reviews
David really cared about me as an individual…and he really cared about seeking the justice that needed to be sought in the case. Peter
Ron got the insurance company to settle for the maximum on the policy. And so as a result of that, my son went back to school. Jeff
Marc just guided us through the whole process. He told us exactly what would happen and how we needed to go about doing everything. Jesenia
I would recommend David…The outcome of my case, I was very pleased with it. I hope I don't have another accident, but if I do we'll be back to see David. Paul
Ron was excellent. He was on top of everything. He answered every question. John
Marc was extremely professional. I felt very confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. This is his area of practice and I had total confidence in him and I actually have recommended him to other people who have been in accidents. Josh