The family of a Davis man who died of pneumonia at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento has been awarded more than $2 million as result of a malpractice suit filed against the hospital and its doctors.The suit was filed in January 1983, about 11 months after Richard W. Goggins Jr., died at Kaiser, said Sacramento laywer Mort Friedman, who filed the suit on behalf of Goggins' widow, Nancy, and the couple's two children, Scott, 2, and Margaret, 4.
An arbitration panel began hearing evidence April 24 and awarded $2,020,507 Wednesday. This a hell of a big judgment, Friedman said Thursday.
Goggins was a vice president for the downtown Sacramento branch of Lloyds Bank. He also was one of the top amateur tennis players in California, Friedman said.
Goggins was 32 in late 1981 when a cold he had became pneumonia. It was our contention they (the doctors at the hospital) did not appropriately treat him, that they did not hospitalize him soon enough, Friedman said.
As a result, Goggins developed a condition known as empyema, or pus on the lungs. After Goggins was operated on Feb. 25, 1982, he was overloaded with intravenous fluids, suffered respiratory distress and died March 2, 1982, Friedman said.
It was a tragic death, said Susan Pieper, director of public affairs for Kaiser in Sacramento. But we didn't find Mr. Goggins' death was caused by any wrongdoing on our part.
Pieper said Goggins died of sepsis, or overwhelming infection.
It developed very quickly, in a matter of hours, she said. And we did pick up on it immediately.
She said an autopsy did not pinpoint the kind of infection Goggins suffered, and that as a result, doctors could only administer him a wide-spectrum anti-biotic.
Friedman said the insurance contract held by Goggins with Kaiser required that any malpractice claim be settled by a three-member arbitration panel. Friedman said many people who have insurance with Kaiser, including federal and state employees, have such provisions in their contracts.
You don't know that you are bargaining away your rights to sue them (before a jury), he said.