$1.9 Million Verdict in Wrongful Death Case Due to Pulmonary Embolism

In this wrongful death/medical malpractice case, a jury found Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand negligent in failing to diagnose and treat a high-risk patient for deep vein thrombosis, awarding the plaintiffs $1,918,400 in damages.

Physician using stethoscope

ByAnjelica Cappellino, J.D.

|

Updated on June 13, 2023

Physician using stethoscope

Case Overview

Case Name: Kelli A. Andrews, Individually, and as Personal Representative of the Estate of William E. Andrews, as Mother/Next Friend to her minor children, Kaylin Andrews and Jack Andrews v. Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D., Orthopaedic Physicians of Annapolis LLC, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Beatrice Grasu, M.D. and Michael G. Millin, M.D., No. CAL16-37851 (Prince George’s County, Circuit Court, Maryland).

Case Type: Wrongful death/Medical malpractice, failure to diagnose; failure to test.

Injury: death; pulmonary embolism; deep vein thrombosis

Plaintiff Attorneys:

  • Karl J. Protil Jr. and Donald Carswell of Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A; for Kelli Andrews, the Estate of William Andrews, Kaylin Andrews , Jack Andrews

Defense Attorneys:

  • David S. Lockemeyer of Calderhead, Lockemeyer & Peschke Law Office (Loveland, OH) and Andrew E. Vernick of Vernick & Associates, LLC (Annapolis, MD) for Jeffrey Gelfand and Johns Hopkins Hospital

Case Outcome:

  • Verdict in favor of plaintiffs

Verdict Award:

  • $1,918,400 in total
  • $410,000 for future lost earnings capability
  • $400,000 for loss of household services
  • $8,400 for funeral costs
  • $300,000 for past pain and suffering (Jack Andrews)
  • $300,000 for past pain and suffering (Kaylin Andrews)
  • $200,000 for past loss of consortium (Kaylin Andrews)
  • $300,000 for past pain and suffering (Kaylin Andrews)

What Happened?

On November 25, 2013, plaintiff William Andrews (approximately 40 years old at the time), was injured in an ATV accident and was taken to Johns Hopkins emergency department. He was diagnosed with a nondisplaced acetabular fracture on his right side, a displaced fracture of the right radius, bruising and swelling of his right knee, and lacerations of his head. Mr. Andrews was fitted for a right-sided knee immobilizer, given crutches for assistance with ambulation and instructions to remain flat-foot non-weight bearing to prevent further injury or displacement of his right hip’s fracture.

On November 29, 2013, Mr. Andrews visited with Marc Brassard, M.D. and Jill Monroe, PA-C of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists to evaluate his hip fracture. Mr. Andrews was advised to remain fully non-weight bearing on his right leg. The orthopedist and physician’s assistant also diagnosed him with a right wrist fracture after complaints of progressively worsening swelling, pain, and bruising at the wrist. Mr. Andrews was given a wrist splint and advised to schedule a visit with Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D., who was also of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists.

On December 3, 2013, Mr. Andrews visited Gelfand for his right fracture at his Bowie office. Gelfand was unaware of Mr. Andrews’ hip fracture, as he did not request nor review the Johns Hopkins medical records. Mr. Andrews’ wife, Kelly, informed Gelfand during the appointment about the fracture and that it was being treated by Dr. Brassard, Gelfand’s partner. Mrs. Andrews also informed Gelfand that Mr. Andrews had been functionally immobile for several days. Gelfand suggested that Mr. Andrews undergo a surgical repair of the wrist fracture, to avoid developing early arthritis. The surgery was scheduled for December 13, 2013. Between the visit and the surgery date, Mr. Andrews remained immobile. On the morning of the surgery, Mrs. Andrews found Mr. Andrews dead on their bedroom floor. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be from a blood clot in his right leg that traveled to his lungs and caused a saddle pulmonary embolism.

The Lawsuit’s Allegations and Trial Testimony

Kelli Andrews, on behalf of herself, Mr. Andrews’ estate, and their children, Jack and Kaitlin, sued Gelfand, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, Orthopedic Physicians of Annapolis LLC, and Johns Hopkins Hospital for the death of Mr. Andrews. The lawsuits against all defendants but for Gelfand were dismissed prior to trial.

Plaintiffs alleged that Gelfand was negligent and breached the applicable standard of care in treating Mr. Andrews. Specifically, plaintiffs argue that Gelfand failed to complete a deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism risk assessment of Mr. Andrews and failed to recognize that he was at high risk for developing thrombosis and an embolism. Plaintiffs also allege that Gelfand failed to prescribe prophylactic anticoagulants, which could have prevented the blood clot, and did not properly inform them about the signs, symptoms, and risks of a thrombosis or embolism.

Gelfand countered plaintiffs’ arguments by maintaining that he did, in fact, perform a deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism risk assessment but did not note it in his medical records. According to the assessment allegedly conducted on December 3rd, Mr. Andrews was not at high risk for developing a thrombosis and his condition did not require Gelfand to prescribe prophylactic anticoagulants.

Expert Specialties

Plaintiffs presented expert testimony from experts in the fields of critical care, orthopedic surgery, and internal medicine, as well as an economics expert to compute damages such as Mr. Andrews’ lost earning capacity and the amount of money that the family would need to maintain their standard of living.

Gelfand presented the testimony of medical experts, including experts in the fields of orthopedic surgery and internal medicine, that concluded he did not breach the standard of care in treating Mr. Andrews and that he was not considered high risk for a thrombosis at the time of the visit.

Who Won?

The case first went to trial in 2018 and the jury was unable to reach a verdict. After a mistrial was declared, a new trial date was set for 2019. After an 8-day retrial, the 6-person jury unanimously found in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that Gelfand was negligent and that his negligence caused William Andrews’ death.

The jury awarded damages totaling $1,918,400. The Estate of William Andrews was awarded $410,000 in future lost earnings capability, $400,000 in loss of household services, and $8,400 in funeral costs. Mr. Andrews’ children, Jack and Kaylin, were awarded $300,000 each for pain and suffering. His wife, Kelli, was awarded $300,000 for pain and suffering as well as $200,000 for loss of consortium.

Key Takeaways

It is of important note that the Andrews’ case initially resulted in a mistrial. Whether the subsequent verdict was a result of Andrews’ counsel significantly changing their case strategy, or merely just maintaining the same strategy and finding better luck with a new jury, it is an example of how challenging it can be to obtain a favorable verdict.

About the author

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, Esq., a New York Law School alumna and psychology graduate from St. John’s University, is an accomplished attorney at Meringolo & Associates, P.C. She specializes in federal criminal defense and civil litigation, with significant experience in high-profile cases across New York’s Southern and Eastern Districts. Her notable work includes involvement in complex cases such as United States v. Joseph Merlino, related to racketeering, and U.S. v. Jimmy Cournoyer, concerning drug trafficking and criminal enterprise.

Ms. Cappellino has effectively represented clients in sentencing preparations, often achieving reduced sentences. She has also actively participated in federal civil litigation, showcasing her diverse legal skill set. Her co-authored article in the Albany Law Review on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines underscores her deep understanding of federal sentencing and its legal nuances. Cappellino's expertise in both trial and litigation marks her as a proficient attorney in federal criminal and civil law.

background image

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our newsletter to stay up to date on legal news, insights and product updates from Expert Institute.