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Pittsburgh Hospital Must Pay $14.2 Million in Malpractice Case

According to a ruling this week by a panel of judges, a Pittsburgh hospital will have to pay $14.2 million to the estate of a man who died of a brain injury resulting from medical malpractice.

A previous judgment was upheld on Monday, ending nearly a decade-long lawsuit against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Shadyside.

The original lawsuit was filed by the estate of 24-year-old Michael Rettger, who was transferred to Shadyside on November 15, 2003, after doctors at a different hospital discovered he had a large brain tumor which required surgery.

The night before Rettger was scheduled for surgery, a nurse noticed that his pupils were dilated, which indicated that his condition was worsening and that he required immediate emergency treatment.

At 1 a.m., she contacted Rettger's neurosurgeon, Dr. Eugene Bonaroti, but he did not go to the hospital to perform surgery or order any emergency treatment. Rettger died the very next day.

The jury in the first trial awarded $2.5 million to Rettger's estate, but the family appealed the judgment because jurors were not allowed to award damages for Rettger's future earnings. Jurors in the second trial were permitted to consider the future wages that Rettger, who was employed as an accountant, would have earned had he survived.

In 2011, the family received a $10 million damage award which, with interest, rose to $13 million after the hospital filed several post-trial motions. The hospital is now required to pay $14.2 million.