Court Allows Evidence of Nonparty Negligence to be Considered by the Jury

Jenny Copsey, on behalf of her late husband, Lance Copsey, filed a lawsuit against a radiologist, Dr. John Park, claiming that he chose not to properly analyze radiological images, which purportedly contributed to the her late husband’s fatal stroke.

The state’s court of appeals said that the evidence of negligence by Copsey’s other physicians who previously settled out of the case was properly admitted by the trial court because it was essential to provide Dr. Park with a fair trial.

The decision stated: “Evidence of nonparty negligence was relevant and necessary in providing Dr. Park a fair trial as it tended to show he was not negligence; thus, the alleged prejudice did not outweigh its probative value.”

The lawsuit came about from treatment of Lance Copsey that he received about three months after he suffered a fall while playing racquetball in 2010. Dr. Park analyzed his CT scan and MRI and found no evidence of brain hemorrhage or infarction, which is brain-cell death caused by insufficient flow of blood.

Because of his complaint of new symptoms six days later, neurologist Dr. Larry Blum ordered an urgent MRI with instructions to the radiologist, Dr. Vijay Viswanathan, to call him with the results. Dr. Viswanathan found evidence of an infarction, but chose not to inform Dr. Blum, instead notifying the on-call neurologist, Dr. Alkaitis, five hours after his analysis was made.

In the meantime, Dr. Blum interpreted the images himself without checking to see if Dr. Viswanathan submitted his results. Finding no abnormalities, Dr. Blum discharged Copsey. “Mr. Copsey was not informed that a lateral medullary infarct had been discovered nor did Dr. Viswanathan or Dr. Alkaitis take any action in contacting Mr. Copsey, his family or arranging for an ambulance to transfer Mr. Copsey back to the emergency room for treatment that night.”

Copsey unfortunately suffered a stroke the next day and died a few days later. The Copsey family attorney, however, reached pre-trial settlements with Dr. Blum and Dr. Alkaitis and voluntarily dismissed claims against Dr. Viswanathan one day after the trial’s start. This left Dr. Park and his practice group as the only defendants. The Copsey family was excellently represented by attorneys William E. Artz and Thomas M. Wochok.

Jenny J. Copsey, et al. v. John S. Park, et al., No. 34/16, In the Court of Appeals of Maryland (May 24, 2017).

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling wrongful death cases, medical negligence cases, misdiagnosis cases and nursing home negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Orland Park, Palos Heights, Oak Forest, Berwyn, Homewood, Geneva, St. Charles, Joliet, Western Springs, Hinsdale, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Chicago (Englewood, DePaul University Area, West Loop, West Town, Wrigleyville, Sauganash, Roseland, Roscoe Village, Pulaski Park, Printer’s Row, Printer’s Park, Gold Coast, Horner Park, Humboldt Park), Round Lake Beach and Palatine, Ill.

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