Hospital/Physician Not Liable for Wrongful Death

Case CaptionMichelle W. Hinson as surviving spouse of John G. Hinson v. Hospital Authority of the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County, and Paul J. Bennett, M.D., Civil Action No.: 07-CV-961
Court:  Superior Court of Decatur County
Judge:  Honorable J. Kevin Chason
Plaintiff’s Attorneys:  Erik Olson, The Olson Law Firm, LLC
Bruce W. Kirbo, Jr., Kirbo, Kendrick & Bell
Defendants’ Attorneys:  Joseph P. Durham, Jr., Langley and Lee, LLC
W. Earl McCall, McCall, Williams, Wilmot & Powell, LLC
Damages:  Wrongful Death
Verdict:  Defense Verdict August 23, 2010

John G. Hinson, a former high school principal, was admitted to Defendant Hospital for kidney stones.  After receiving several doses of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) prescribed by Dr. Bennett for pain, Mr. Hinson was found unresponsive by a lab technician, in the middle of the night. Attempts to resuscitate Mr. Hinson failed and the father of three young children was pronounced dead.  Plaintiff argued that the cause of Mr. Hinson’s death was an overdose of Dilaudid (a powerful narcotic significantly stronger per milligram than morphine), and that the hospital was insufficiently staffed to properly monitor patients.

The defense countered Plaintiff’s case with the testimony of a pain management specialist who stated that the Dilaudid was administered according to the standard of care, and an expert in nursing who stated that Mr. Hinson was monitored appropriately.  In addition, the defense relied on autopsy findings to argue that Mr. Hinson’s death was caused by his obesity and severe pre-existing heart disease, not by any negligence of the Defendants.  Finally, Defendants argued that the autopsy revealed evidence that Mr. Hinson had ingested pain killers on the night of his death, other than those given to him by the hospital staff.

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