Digging Deeper: Jury awards $10M verdict in medical malpractice - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Digging Deeper: Jury awards $10M verdict in medical malpractice case in Dubuque County

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A record $10 million dollar verdict has been reached in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Dubuque.

The trial concluded earlier this week with a unanimous decision, which involves the death of 80-year-old Richard Pellock of Cassville, Wisconsin who sought treatment at UnityPoint Health, Finley Hospital.

Attorneys for his family argue it was negligence by the medical group, Mississippi Valley Anesthesiology, P.C. that caused Richard Pellock's death.

His wife of 55-years Joann Pellock can't get over what happened. "I just keep thinking he should be here, I was very hurt to think what happened to him in the hospital," she said.

On Jan. 5, 2015, he had surgery to remove bladder cancer. Soon after, he developed complications, which required a follow-up at Finley. About a week later, on Jan. 11, he died after another surgery. 

Nick Rowley, the attorney from the firm Trial Lawyers for Justice, said the wrongful death was caused by multiple errors by the certified registered nurse anesthetist, James Wieters. 

"They didn't do two things -- number one, they didn't empty his stomach," he said. "Mr. Pellock died because he drowned on his own stomach contents, what went up from his stomach, ended up in his lungs."

He added the other error was taking too long to seal Pellock's airway after inserting the breathing tube.

The whole situation caught the family off guard. 

"Oh, it was hard" said Joann Pellock. "Doctor Wagner came in, he said, I have some bad news, you have a very, very sick husband. And then he said, but you're not gonna be taking him home."

The family said they weren't sure what caused the death, but all along they had a feeling something wasn't right.

"When the trial came around is when we got the truthful answers, so we were really in the dark for two and a half years...we just had that gut feeling," Mitchell Pellock said. 

Wieters, the anesthetist, has retired. 

The insurance company for Mississippi Valley Anesthesiology P.C., will be responsible for paying the $10 million verdict. They said in a statement, "This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved.  While we disagree with the jury’s findings we have great respect for the legal process.  The well-being of our patients sits at the heart of everything we do each day."

Attorneys representing the medical group said they plan to file motions to overturn the verdict and appeal if necessary.

As for Finley Hospital, they were dismissed from the lawsuit, but said in a statement: " Our thoughts are with Mr. Pellock’s family as to this very difficult matter."

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