Update: Passalaqua v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

by Ted Frank on January 27, 2009

I got an email asking me what happened to the case in the following post:

While his wife, Jeanette Passalaqua, was giving birth, Steven fainted in the delivery room, fracturing his skull and dying two days later. This is, says the family, the fault of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group Inc. “‘This avoidable tragedy was a direct result of Kaiser’s ordinary negligence in failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries to Steven,’ according to the suit, which was filed last week in San Bernardino County Superior Court.” So if your maternity ward is rubber-padded next time you go there, you know why.

So I looked it up in the San Bernardino County Superior Court docket database: the case settled almost immediately. The docket does not report the amount of the settlement, which could conceivably have been for a token amount, but one can infer that there was some substantial money involved, because the settlement required proof of the purchase of annuities for the two plaintiff minors, which normally wouldn’t be worth the transactions costs if the sums were tiny. But that inference may be incorrect. If ever I find myself in San Bernardino, maybe I’ll check the paper record to see if there’s more public detail.

{ 6 comments }

1 someone 01.27.09 at 4:43 pm

By writing such an astounding blog post, you failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the foreseeable injury of my falling off my chair. Expect as lawsuit. (jk).

2 Andrew_M_Garland 01.27.09 at 5:44 pm

In the past, patients were required to leave the hospital in a wheelchair. I suppose this was to prevent lawsuits.

Now, all visitors will be required to be in wheelchairs during their time in the hospital. And what about the doctors and nurses; I think they deserve safety too.

The hospital could have limited its liablility by offering protective helmets to everyone who enters, with a written waiver of liability for anyone who refuses. For an appropriate fee to cover disinfecting the helmets between uses.

3 TM 01.27.09 at 8:47 pm

Not sure about CA, but in FL when you look up the status of a doctor’s license, one of the profile’s tabs (Proceedings and Actions, maybe?) contains a link to the Department of Financial Services — searching the physician in that database usually has the settlement information, submitted by the insurance company.

4 asdf fff 01.27.09 at 11:15 pm

Should have sued the kid.

5 Mark 01.28.09 at 8:10 am

When a lawsuit settles for the benefit of a minor in Calif., a “minors compromise” needs to be filed and heard in court. This assures the minor children will not be taken advantage of. The judge needs to agree on the settlement. One of the terms of the minors compromise is that trust account be set up for the settlement amount.
Whether this is for $1000.00 or a million, the law says the hearing must be held and a trust account opened.

6 Ted Frank 01.28.09 at 9:21 am

@3: those databases are a creation of state law and maintained only in Texas and Florida.

@5: Yes, I know. My speculation was not based on the existence of the hearing or trust account, but on the existence of an annuity.

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