Doctor dies after heart treatment at Kaiser. $2.6 million net arbitration award. Los Angeles County.


Doctor, 56, is treated with stents at Kaiser, later dies of sudden cardiac death.

The Case

  • Case Name: Doe et al. v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: ARC Case No.: 70K342C
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, June 09, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Burton S. Katz, Ret. (neutral)
  • Plaintiffs:
    Surviving spouse and three (3) sons of decedent Dr. John Doe, 56.
  • Defendants:
    Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,622,284 ($2,987,273 Present Value)
  • Net Verdict or Award: $2,610,598.80 ($2,166,091.10 Present Value)
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 30% comparative fault assigned to the deceased doctor.
  • Economic Damages:


    Income: $382,597
    Household Services: $12,313
    Income: $2,683,844 ($2,168,722 PV)
    Household Services: $293,532 ($173,641 PV)


    The arbitrator accepted the family's damage calculation in full, subject to a very small offset for certain expenses and a larger offset for comparative negligence on the part of the deceased.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Non-Economic damages awarded at 100% of MICRA limit, $250,000.


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Closing arguments submitted in writing. At Arbitrator’s request, final supplemental briefs were submitted.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Marcarian Law Firm, P.C. by Armond Marcarian and Marc L. McCulloch, Woodland Hills.

    Law Offices of Motaz M. Gerges, Woodland Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    La Follette, Johnson, De Haas, Fesler & Ames by Brian W. Birnie, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Juan Carrilo, M.D., anatomic/forensic pathology, Los Angeles.

    Suhail Zavaro, M.D., interventional cardiology, La Mesa.

    Douglas, Zusman, M.D., cardiothoracic surgery, Newport Beach.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Robert L. Shuman, M.D., cardiothoracic surgery, Long Beach.

    W. Allan Edmiston, M.D., interventional cardiology, Pasadena.

    Michael C. Fishbein, M.D.; cardiovascular pathology, Los Angeles.



  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Phillip H. Allman, Ph.D., economist, Oakland.


  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

     Heather H. Xitco, MBA, CPA, CFF, accountant/economist, San Diego.


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff's decedent, a 56-year-old family medicine/internist who owned four neighborhood clinics at which he practiced, was treated at defendant Kaiser facilities (South Bay and Sunset) for coronary heart disease. Two months after Kaiser treated him with stents, the patient died of sudden cardiac death.

    The decedent (patient) first presented to Kaiser in late 2006 because an insurance company raised concerns prior to issuing a life insurance policy. An EKG and nuclear stress test indicated ischemia and impaired perfusion.  However, the patient had no chest pain or overt symptoms of heart disease.  A Kaiser doctor  strongly recommended a follow-up angiogram, but the patient refused, preferring to treat the condition medically rather than by invasive procedure.

    Patient followed a regimen of exercise and medications until on or about February 18, 2008 when he visited the same Kaiser doctor and was again urged to undergo further angiographic study. Patient again refused and treated himself medically for the next three years.

    On September 25, 2011, patient presented to the emergency department of Kaiser South Bay, complaining of symptoms suggesting angina.  After further tests, it was determined patient had suffered a myocardial infarction.  Patient was admitted to Kaiser South Bay hospital.
    The following day (September 26, 2011) the patient was transferred to Kaiser Sunset for cardiac catheterization. Following a diagnostic angiogram, Kaiser's interventional cardiologists decided to proceed with angioplasty and stent placement in the circumflex artery and obtuse marginal branch of the circumflex (ONLY.)
    On November 26, 2011, the patient suffered sudden cardiac death.
  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That Kaiser's interventional cardiologists were negligent in hastily treating only 2 of 6 occluded arteries by angioplasty (stents) and never seeking the opinion of a cardiothoracic surgeon who would have recommended coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery as the standard of care to treat the entire heart.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Kaiser relied on an "alternative methods of care" defense and the argument that the fatal arrhythmia could have come from any area of the damaged heart but, more likely than not, from an area that the interventional cardiologists had treated.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $995,000