Jeanne Marks decided to undergo reconstructive surgery on her foot in May 2014. She elected to have the surgery on her forefoot performed at the Delray Medical Center, located in South Florida. Before the operation Brian Coleman, Marks’ doctor, instructed an internal medicine specialist to conduct a surgical authorization exam to make sure that Marks, then 60, was cleared for surgery. But according to a medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of William Marks, Jeanne’s husband, Coleman never actually read the 15-page report that allegedly could have saved her life. After a seven-day trail, a Palm Beach Circuit Court jury deliberated for about nine hours and returned with a verdict favoring the deceased plaintiff’s husband.
According to the lawsuit, if the report had been read by Coleman or his PA, Justin Bartl, then Marks’ death could have been avoided. During the trial Coleman admitted that he never read the document and claimed that he delegated that responsibility to the surgical coordinator who cleared Marks for surgery. But if the report had been properly analyzed, Coleman would have seen that Marks was on Evista, an estrogen modulator that helps treat osteoporosis. Upon further investigation, Marks’ doctors would have realized that Evista comes with a FDA warning because the drug can lead to blood clots, increasing the chance for a pulmonary embolism, especially if the patient is immobile for an extended period of time.
After the surgery, Marks was not able to move and according to an expert witness for the plaintiff she should have been told to stay off Evista until she was active. According to the lawsuit, however, Marks was told that she could resume her prescribed regiment of medication immediately after the procedure. Over the next month and a half Marks did exactly that and blood clots began to form in her lower extremities as a result. Her cardiothoracic surgeon, who testified at the trial, said that the clots moved into her lungs and heart, causing a pulmonary embolism. The embolism clogged her arteries and her blood stopped flowing properly.
“Sadly, Mrs. Marks suffered further complications during the attempts to remove the clots and she died 12 days later at 60 years of age,” said one of the attorney’s representing her husband. “William Marks lost the love of his life, who he was with for 36 years.”
The lawsuit was filed against Coleman, Bartl, and the South Palm Orthopedics department in December 2015. On May 11, 2017, William Marks was awarded $630,000 for the incurred medical and funeral costs, $425,000 for pain and suffering, as well as $405,000 for the loss of his wife’s financial support and services. The $1.46 million verdict was then reduced to $949,000 because the defendant’s lawyers successfully argued that some of the fault rested with Marks, who was told to call her physician before resuming her medication, but she never did.