Ohio transplant case shows the limits placed on medical malpractice recovery



University of Toledo Medical Center, a hospital situated in Toledo, Ohio, is denying a family’s allegations of medical negligence after a hospital nurse accidentally threw out a viable kidney donated to a Toledo woman by her younger brother in August 2012. The botched kidney transplant was originally scheduled for August 10, 2012, before the temperature-controlled slush containing the kidney was mistakenly tossed out. The hospital found another kidney for Sarah Fudacz and paid for her transportation to Colorado to receive surgery November 13, 2012. However, Sarah Fudacz, and her family-consisting of eight members- are suing the hospital for additional damages of about $25,000 each, citing medical negligence and loss of consortium.


A complaint by the siblings and their family alleged the facility was negligent , causing physical and emotional suffering for the patients and emotional distress for the parents. “Sarah seeks damages she has suffered and will continue to suffer due to the loss of Paul Jr.’s [her brother], perfect kidney. Paul Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with one kidney, all in vain,” the suit reads. The hospital, in documents filed Tuesday, sought dismissal of the case, specifically requesting to dismiss the counts involving the relatives’ alleged losses. It argued that Ohio law “doesn’t provide for parents and siblings of an affected adult to recover damages for such losses.” There is no word on how much the family has been compensated thus far.


One of the main issues raised by this sad case is the issue of who is permitted to recover for a loss when someone is the victim of medical malpractice. In Florida, the laws are tailored to limit the recovery of family members affected by a loved one’s medical malpractice injuries. This is especially true when medical malpractice leads to wrongful death. Whereas in a car accident, if the victim is an unmarried adult at the time of death, the victim’s lineal descendants can pursue a claim. This means that the parents of an unmarried adult with no children can pursue the claim for that victim’s wrongful death. However, when someone is the victim of medical malpractice and dies as a result, the only people that can recover for that wrongful death are (a) the person’s spouse or (b) the person’s children under the age of 25 years old. If the victim of medical malpractice is over 25 years of age, is unmarried and has no children under the age of 25, no one can seek to pursue a claim for that victim’s wrongful death.


While the case in Ohio does not involve death, it still speaks to the limitations that many states place on medical malpractice claims. This is an effort by most state legislatures to limit the medical malpractice claims filed against hospitals and doctors. The excuse for these unfair and likely unconstitutional laws is that there is a healthcare crisis and the only way to stop it is to end medical malpractice claims. Unfortunately, many of the people that attempt to bring claims for the losses of their loved ones and find out the laws prevent their claims voted for the very laws that now restrict their access to the courts.


The Leto Law Firm, founded by Justin Leto, specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, commercial litigation, traumatic brain injury cases, appeals and auto accidents. Visit our website at LetoLaw.com to learn about the our vast list of practice areas, access legal resources, and see the results of prior court cases undertaken by the firm. For more information on Personal Injury Miami, send an email to info@letolaw.com.

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