Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Thursday, January 08, 2015

An invitation

Facebook community page 

In the first seven days of this year, just over 5,000 visits have been logged on this blog.  Many of those hits have come via a community page on Facebook.

This is an invitation for you to log on to that page.

Once there, you can leave a comment, as many people have done on the story below about the newborn allegedly injured at the Burdett Care Center in Troy.  You can share post links on your own Facebook page - as 30 people did during the past week on the baby story.  And you can join the page, so that it appears on the left side of your own Facebook page when you are logged in.

Here's the page link:

Twitter: @answersforlisa

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Long labor leads to claim

Nurses, Burdett Care Center face
suit alleging injuries to newborn

Lawsuit alleges baby was "near death"
after mother was in labor for 17 hours 
By David Baker
Posted Thursday Jan. 1, 2015
413 words

The parents of a baby who allegedly received a permanent brain injury after four nurses allegedly failed to see that he was in distress during a long labor have filed a lawsuit against the nurses and the Burdett Care Center, a maternity facility located within Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y.

According to legal papers, Lisette Maldonado of Troy went into labor on August 4, 2012 and was admitted to the care center at just after 4 a.m.

The suit says that the four nurses – Kathleen Breault, Amy Vincent, Jeanmarie Rodino and Kim-Lorraine Reed Bouchard – “…failed to address signs of fetal distress and permitted labor to continue, administered medications to induce labor and failed to seek medical assistance or take steps to have the baby delivered by cesarean section despite the need to do so.”

After Maldonado had been in labor for 17 hours, the baby was delivered by cesarean section. By then according to the complaint, he had received permanent injuries.

“The prolonged and extreme fetal distress suffered by the baby prior to the time of his birth placed him at risk of significant injury and harm, requiring that emergent steps be taken including delivery by cesarean section to alleviate,” the complaint says. “…[H]e was by then and there in extreme distress, had aspirated meconium, [the baby’s own accumulated waste], suffered respiratory failure, hypoxemia, was suffering acute excruciating mental and physical agony and pain and was near death.”

As a result, the suit says, the baby “…suffered trauma to his body systems, suffered mental and physical  pain suffered anguish anxiety and brain damage.”

The suit also names Capital Region Midwifery, by which Breault, a certified nurse midwife, was employed. Capital Region Midwifery was founded in 2012 with offices in Albany, Latham and Troy and has admitting privileges at the Burdett Care Center and at Ellis Healthcare in Schenectady, according to its web page. 

The suit seek an unspecified amount in damages for what it says will be the considerable resources need to treat the child’s condition, and for his pain, as well as compensation for both parents’ anguish.

The suit was filed in October 2013  by the Albany law firm DeGraff, Foy & Kunz.

The defendants are represented by Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore Maloney & Laird; and O’Connor, O’Connor, Bresee & First. In early 2014 the defendant Kathleen Breault, an employee of Capital Region Midwifery, signed a consent to change attorneys from Carter, Conboy to Napierski, Vandenburgh, Napierski & O’Connor.

A search of the area’s newspaper archives produced no indication that details of the case have been published.

Burdett Care Center faces harassment suit.

Documents filed

Two lawsuits move along

By David Baker
Posted Thursday Jan 1, 2015
375 words

As a new year starts, here is an update on two lawsuits, details of which have previously been published on this blog.

Patricia Cocozzo vs. Northeast Health

Details of this case were published in an exclusive story here in June 2014. Patricia Cocozzo alleges that she was sexual harassed while working in the emergency department at Samaritan Hospital, and that she was ridiculed because of her hearing impairment. She also alleges retaliation for complaining about the harassment, which allegedly involved in part a male employee showing her a video of himself having sex with another woman.  The suit claims violations of several sections of New York’s Human Rights Law.

At the time the first story appeared here nothing had been filed by attorneys for the defendants. Since then, a law firm in White Plains, N.Y., Jackson Lewis, has filed a response. This document, known as an answer, contains little of substance; it merely routinely denies all the allegations and then lists a set of standard “affirmative defenses”; that the claim is barred by the statue of limitations (they all say that, even when it clearly isn’t); that Cocozzo “…failed to make diligent and good faith efforts to mitigate her damages”; and also a novel defense: that Cocozzo’s claim is barred by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law; i.e., that any perceived harassment was a workplace accident, claims for which cannot be brought in civil courts.

The first story on Cocozzo's claim is HERE

Estate of Tara Palmer vs. James Slavin, M.D. and Samaritan Hospital

In this case, it is alleged that Tara Palmer was advised by the defendant James Slavin that it was safe to fly following an operation on an ankle. The next day Palmer collapsed and died in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport en route to Boise, Idaho.  She was 31.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the estate by Palmer’s mother, Cheryl Maille, who lives in Boise. The date of the filing was November 2011 but there was no further activity in the public record until June 2014. In August, state Supreme Court Justice Patrick J. McGrath issued a scheduling order. A preliminary conference is set for March 2015.

The estate is represented by the Albany law  firm O’Connell & Aronowitz. Representing the defendants are Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird, and Thorn, Gershon Tymann & Bonanni.

The first story on the Palmer lawsuit is HERE


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bedsores lead to claims

Two new lawsuits allege
avoidable harm from ulcers

By David Baker
Posted Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
234 words

Many of the lawsuits filed against hospitals and nursing homes allege that bedsores developed or were not treated properly while a person was in the facility.

Two of several such complaints filed this year name two area hospitals and a doctor as defendants.

According to a document in the first one, Peter J. Enzien suffered harm at Albany Medical Center Hospital “… when the said Peter John Enzien commenced medical treatment with the defendants at the medical facility in Albany, New York on or about January 8, 2012, the plaintiff was free of any sores or ulcers commonly known as bed sores,” the documents says. But “…while the plaintiff was a patient at the defendant’s facility, the plaintiff developed a substantial ulcer and bed sore.”

The claim was filed in May by attorney Robert Becher of Albany.

The second case names Ellis Hospital in Schenectady and a physician, Sanjiv Kayastha. It was brought by Cherylyn and Joseph McDowell, who live in Warren County.

According to the suit, during two separate admissions Cherylyn McDowell developed a sacral decubitus ulcer after hospital staff “ :…negligently breached the applicable standard of care by, among other things, failing to properly timely consistently and adequately turn and/or alter the position of Plaintiff, Cherylyn McDowell, as to avoid the development of pressure or decubitus sores.”

The compliant was filed in March by the Mills Law Firm of Clifton Park. N. Y.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Death of a salesman

Indications of fatal heart
attack allegedly missed

By David Baker
Posted Nov. Dec. 1, 2014
368 words

The widow of a man who had a heart attack and died in St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, N.Y. has filed a lawsuit alleging that a failure to properly monitor his condition caused his death.

Pamela J. Higgins filed the claim in state Supreme Court, Rensselaer County on July 29 as administrator of the estate of Victor S. Higgins, Jr. of Troy.

Named as defendants are four physicians: Kathleen M. Crisafulli, Stephen J. Sokaris, Claudia L. Quinonez and Robert Boska; three medical organizations: Pegasus Emergency Medicine,  Troy N.Y., Pegasus Emergency Group, and Hospitalist Medicine Physicians of New York.  Also named are St. Mary’s Hospital, Seton Health Systems, Catholic Health East and St. Peter’s Health Partners.

According to legal papers, Higgins was seen in the hospital’s emergency room on July 30, 2012 complaining of shortness of breath, a swollen stomach and constipation.  He was admitted and placed in a bed on a regular ward, where, on August 7, he died.

The cause of death, according to the suit, was ‘…cardiopulmonary arrest, sepsis and anoxic encephalopathy.”

The suit alleges that the defendants “…failed to timely, accurately and property evaluate and diagnose the nature and extent of the decedent’s true condition and failed to timely and properly treat that condition and failed to provide proper and heightened monitoring and management.”

The claim was filed by attorney E. Stewart Jones of Troy.  As has been noted elsewhere on this page, Jones has for several years filed lawsuits with a summons with notice, which provide only a very brief description of the nature of the claim.

But the complaint in this case runs to 13 pages, although only two paragraphs – from which the quoted words above were taken – describe the events surrounding the alleged negligence.  The rest of it is text establishing the relationship between the various parties and the duty of care each owed the patient.

The complaint doesn’t give Higgins’ age, but an obituary notice says he was a 1977 graduate of Lansingburgh High School and for 30 years was an independent salesman for the Friehofer Baking company.  It lists as one of his  survivors his wife, Pamela Higgins.

Representing the defendants is the Albany law firm O’Connor, O’Connor, Bresee & First.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Heart damage alleged

Lawsuit: Misplaced catheter
caused woman’s death

By David Baker
Posted November 21, 2014
205 word

The estate of a woman who died one day after her heart allegedly was cut by a catheter that was intended to drain fluid from around her left lung is suing two doctors, a nurse and Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Ruth A. Cancilla of Troy died in the hospital at the age of 69.

Named in the complaint are physicians Meridith Englander and Lawrence Keating, and a family nurse practitioner, Christopher Doti,. Also named is Community Care Physicians. a medical practice based in Latham.

According to the complaint “…when said procedure for the placement of the pleural catheter was performed on March 29, 2012, the needle was not placed into the pleural space but was placed into the pericardial space.” As a result, the suit says, Cancilla’s heart was punctured, causing her death.

The lawsuit demands unspecified compensatory damages for wrongful death, medical malpractice and negligence. It was filed in January 2014 by the law firm Martin, Harding and Mazzotti.

Representing the defendants are the Albany firms Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird, and Maynard, O’Connor, Smith & Catalinotto.

A search of Capital District newspaper archives produced only an obituary notice, which says Ruth Cancilla died “suddenly” on March 30, 2012.

Bathroom injury

 The door hit her on the way out

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 21, 2014
132 words

Injuries in hospitals are common. But sometimes it’s nothing to do with medical care.

Amy Dibello claims she received serious injuries while she was in Albany Medical Center.

It happened, according to her lawsuit against the hospital, when a door fell on her.

“On or about January 16, 2013, while the plaintiff was an invited patron at the defendant’s aforesaid hospital, she was caused to incur serious personal injuries when a bathroom door in Room M512 suddenly and without warning came off its hinges and fell on plaintiff.”

The suit says Dibello’s claim for damages include “…exacerbation of cervical, thoracic and lumber back injuries, loss of use and motion, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and medical expenses.”

The claim was filed in January in state Supreme Court, Rensselaer County. Dibello’s attorney is Paul Dwyer of Loudonville.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Radiologist faces suit

Missed hip fracture left woman
with permanent disability, suit says

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 19, 2014
536 words

A woman who was sent to physical therapy with a broken hip after a radiologist reported that there was no fracture is claiming compensation from the doctor, his medical group and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

This, according to the lawsuit, is what happened:  In October 2012, Marilyn Snare fell while at Proctor’s Theater in  Schenectady and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Ellis Hospital, where ex-ray images and CT scans of her left hip were taken. Later, in a report of a review of the x-rays, a radiologist, Dr. John D. Fulco, wrote that “no fractures or dislocations are documented.”

Snare went home, where she continued to complain of extreme pain in her left hip.

The next day, Snare’s daughters brought her back to Ellis Hospital, but despite Snare’s complaints of excruciating pain and her repeated requests for either more x-rays or at least another review of the earlier images, no further x-rays were done. Snare was given a referral for physical therapy.

Two days later Snare was discharged with a transfer summary signed by an Ellis Hospital staff physician, Pajesh Ghimire, in which one notation said: “CT of Pelvis without IV contrast, Impression of fracture, dislocation is evident,” while another note said “Hip X-ray: Impression, Degenerative Joint, left hip joint, no fracture of dislocation noted.”

For the following nine days, Snare received physical therapy at the Ellis Residential and Rehabilitation Center, where staff members noted in her chart that she was in “screaming pain,” and while her daughters repeatedly asked for either another x-ray or a review of the existing images.

“Finally, on October 16, 2012, a further MRI was performed which revealed that the Plaintiff now had a displaced fracture of her left hip. On October 22, 2012, the Plaintiff’s left hip was operated on and repaired by means of an artificial hip.”

According to the compliant, Snare has been permanently disabled as a result of the failure to report a non-displaced fracture of the neck of the left femur which, it says, “is “obvious to a layman and should clearly have been detected by a trained radiologist … the progression of the Plaintiff’s left hip from the non-displaced fracture shown in Exhibit ‘A’ to the displaced fracture shown in Exhibit ‘C’ all took place during and as a result of the physical therapy and/or rehabilitate services prescribed for and administer to the Plaintiff by the Defendant Ellis Hospital. 

“Prior to October 2, 2012, the Plaintiff was a healthy and fully independent widower [sic], living independently in a two-story house and who had just purchased a new vehicle in which to get herself around. Following the operation on October 22, 2012, she has not regained the full use of her left leg and she now requires full-time live-in assistance, cannot drive an automobile and ambulates by means of a walker.”

In addition to Fulco, the complaint names Schenectady Radiologists and Ellis Hospital. It was filed by the Tuttle Law Firm of Schenectady.

Representing the defendants are the law firms Thorne, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni, and Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd, both of Albany.

A check of archives of the area’s three daily newspapers – including the Schenectady-based Daily Gazette – produced no indication that details of the lawsuit have been published.


Restricted info

Legal papers contain only brief
details of Troy attorney’s cases

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 19, 2014
346 words

Two lawsuits filed this year by Troy attorney E. Stewart Jones against Samaritan Hospital, St. Peter’s Health Partners – and in one of them, also a doctor – each allege that a patient was injured.

In both cases, Jones filed only a summons with notice rather than a complaint, as is done with most filings. A complaint usually sets out in detail the alleged facts of the claim; a notice gives only a brief summery of the case.

One reason for doing this could be to reduce the detail that can be published, thus protecting the defendants in his cases from unwelcome publicity. Jones appears to have started the practice soon after details of a claim by the estate of R. Alec McKenzie appeared here.

McKenzie, who 81, died in Samaritan Hospital in 2004 after his blood glucose level was recorded in a hospital chart as 37 mg/dL; at 60 mg/dL or less a patient is hypoglycemic, at risk of becoming unconscious. Untreated, the condition can cause catastrophic organ damage and death.

The case was settled, after prolonged litigation, for $125,000.

With the area’s media ignoring lawsuits filed against advertisers, until details of them began appearing here there was no reason to withhold specifies of alleged malpractice.

Another reason could be an attempt to avoid protracted litigation. Settle early before motions – which often include copies of documents not previously filed – are served and again, damaging details remain unavailable for posting on this page.

The first of two claims filed by Jones this year with only a notice names as defendants physician Edward Hannan, Samaritan, Hospital, Northeast Health Troy Medical Group and St. Peter’s Health Partners. “The injuries, harm, damages and loss arose  from negligence which occurred at Samaritan Hospital during Mr. Calin’s hospitalization, including February 11, 2013 during hernia surgery performed upon the plaintiff,” the brief notice attached to the summons says.

In another claim, filed by Jones in October, Nicole Matala is suing Samaritan Hospital, Northeast Health and St. Peter’s Health Partners, alleging that a delay in diagnosing and treating her appendicitis caused her to receive “serious and permanent injures, consequences, pain, suffering, harm and damages.”

Information on who is representing the defendants in these two cases was not available in court records at the time the files were obtained.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Infant injured

Lawsuit: Permanant birth
 injuries caused by doctor

By David Baker
Posted Monday Nov. 17, 2014
299 words

A couple who allege that their baby received serious permanent injuries when a doctor ignored the mother’s pleas for a cesarean section delivery and instead used forceps are suing the doctor and two medical practices.

Named in a complaint filed on January 10, 2014 in Rensselaer County are Dr. Christopher A. Bloss, OB/GYN Health Center Associates, and Community Care Physicians.

According to the complaint, Laura Daly of Troy was admitted to St. Peter’s Hospital – which is not a defendant – for an induction of labor. On that day – July 2, 2012, she signed a consent form for a cesarean section. After being in labor for the next two days, Daly "pled" for her baby to be delivered by cesarean section. That request was noted in her medical chart and an anesthetist was called.

The suit alleges that “…the defendant, Christopher A. Bloss, M.D., ignored plaintiff’s request for a cesarean section and used forceps on two separate occasions in an effort to deliver the infant plaintiff. Due to the failure to perform the cesarean section when the plaintiff requested it, the infant plaintiff sustained serious and permanent injuries including but not limited to, a depressed fracture deformity of the left parietal bone and a subdural hematoma over the right and left pareital bone.”

As a result, the complaints says, the baby “… has been permanently handicapped; has suffered impairment injuries; will lose considerable sums of money by virtue of an inability to either obtain employment or reach the level of employment she otherwise would have been able to attain; and will require life-long medical care and treatment.”

The complaint demands damages for the future medical care, rehabilitation and institutionalization of the child.

The lawsuit was filed by the Albany law firm Powers & Santola.

Representing the defendants is Carter, Conboy, Case. Blackmore, Maloney & Laird.