Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys were interested to see a malpractice jury award for $3 million in an unusual case that has made headlines across the US, and even as far away as England. The story sounds like a bad soap opera plot. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a 31 year old married Lawrenceville man named William Martinez, a police officer, suffered a fatal heart attack on March 12, 2009 while having a three-some with a male friend and a woman who was not his wife. He went to a motel near Hartfield-Jackson International Airport for this sexual rendezvous and apparently had sex numerous times before collapsing.
The crux of the malpractice case, though, was that Mr. Martinez had been to his cardiologist the week before complaining of chest pain radiating into his arm. He was scheduled for a stress test the day after he died. According to documents filed in the suit his failed to warn Mr. Martinez not to engage in any physical activity that could affect his heart, like sex. The doctor also failed to take a proper medical history of Mr. Martinez. There were allegations as well that the doctor should have recognized the severity of Mr. Martinez’s blocked arteries and sent him straight for tests at the hospital, which could have saved his life.
The verdict was handed down last week in Gwinnett County, with State Court Judge Joseph C. Iannazzone presiding. The jury initially had an award of $5 million, but determined that Mr. Martinez was 40 percent liable in his own death, and therefore decreased the award to $3 million. He consented to the sexual activities and also knew of his own history of high blood pressure and his risk of clogged arteries, in addition to his recent chest pain.
The suit was on behalf of Mr. Martinez’s estate, but reports were unclear as to who would end up with this award, although his widow and two sons would likely benefit.
While the unsavory facts of Mr. Martinez’s sexual and adulterous tryst make the story a sensational headline and incite chuckles and derision, the medical malpractice case was well-founded enough for the jury to determine in the plaintiff’s favor. Each Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer at our firm understands that these types of cases are not meant to pass judgment on someone’s life choices, but require examination of the facts and applicable law. In this case, the doctors should have taken into account the patient’s history and warned him against strenuous activity. This story would not have inspired so much attention if Mr. Martinez had died while on a morning run, but for the sake of malpractice, the result would have been the same. He should have been warned of the risk to his life.
If someone in your family has been harmed by negligent medical care, the Georgia personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter are available to assist with determining what legal steps to take. Please call us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.
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