Jury overrules panel, awards malpractice verdict in son's death
Landry died in June 2005.
New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Thomas Andrew testified that he found a lesion on Landry's heart during an autopsy, McDowell said. Andrew said Landry probably developed heart disease in September 2004, McDowell said.
"I really don't know," McDowell said when asked why the jury went against the panel's decision in the Landry case. He said the jury trial involved more witnesses; the evidence had not been completely gathered when the panel heard the case in 2009.
The malpractice panels are favored by insurance companies and the health care industry. They were opposed by personal-injury lawyers, who see them as an additional, expensive step before a case goes to trial.
Harker said the most recent available data for New Hampshire — up to September 2012 — show that malpractice panels heard 213 cases. Of those, 163 resulted in unanimous decisions, 112 in favor of the doctor or hospital.
Harker said most practitioner errors are innocent mistakes. Patients deserve to get compensated in a timely fashion, but a wait of five to seven years hurts them and the physician, he said.
McDowell said Gartska's lawyer never offered a settlement, especially not after the malpractice panel decision. It took four years to bring the case to a jury after the malpractice panel decision.
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