Lawyer hopes Brockton Hospital suit will net more than $10 million
The lawyer for a woman widowed by last year’s fatal car crash at Brockton Hospital hopes his client’s lawsuit will lead to the awarding of more than $10 million in damages.
The suit accuses Compass Medical and four of its Abington-based doctors of failing to warn the elderly driver, a patient of theirs, to not drive while medicated. The driver, 77-year-old Jane Berghold of Rockland, was sued for $10 million, but she settled out of court without making a payment.
The suit was recently amended to include Berghold’s doctors. Brad Greenberg, a lawyer for the widow of victim Dr. Mark Vasa, said Thursday that the damages awarded in the new suit “could be much, much more” than the original $10 million figure.
“Having read (Berghold’s) medical records, I feel confident that we have a firm basis for pursuing this lawsuit,” said Greenberg, a Brockton attorney for the widow, Kathleen Vasa.
The lawyer for the defendants, Martin Foster of Cambridge, has declined to comment, saying he does not discuss pending litigation.
Greenberg said cases such as this typically span two to four years. He plans to serve the defendants with a summons within two weeks.
The crash, on Oct. 15, 2007, killed Vasa, 58, of Norwell, chief of radiation therapy at the hospital, and Susan Plante, 59, of East Bridgewater, a secretary.
The lawsuit accuses doctors George Clairmont, Michelle Beaupre, Jonathan Ellis and Ersan Yalcin, all of Compass Medical, of negligence for prescribing powerful drugs to Berghold but failing to warn her against driving.
The doctors prescribed “several mind- and body-altering medications” including the opioid painkiller Ultracet, and Berghold had frequently complained of feeling dizzy and lightheaded while medicated, according to the suit.
On one occasion, Berghold “specifically complained to Ersan Yalcin that she experiences dizzy spells while driving,” the suit states.
Berghold suffered from breast cancer but was being treated at Compass Medical for other ailments – diabetes, hypertension and stroke with congestive heart failure, the suit says. She was treated at the practice’s Abington branch starting in 1999.
Doctors who had treated Berghold for cancer are not being held responsible in the suit, but that “does not mean they may not be involved later” if new evidence arises, Greenberg said.
Greenberg said Berghold had also been treated by Dr. Rolf Freter of Weymouth and by other doctors at South Shore Hospital and Harbor Medical Associates. They are all being kept apprised of the case in the event that they become involved in the future, Greenberg said.
The case is the most recent to wade into new legal territory by holding a doctor responsible for a patient’s actions. It follows last year’s ruling from the state Supreme Judicial Court allowing a similar suit against Dr. Roland Florio, of Brockton, to proceed.
Florio is being sued for failing to warn an elderly patient about the side effects of prescription medications. That patient was driving a car when he struck and killed a 10-year-old Stoughton boy in 2002. The case is scheduled to go to trial in November.
Kyle Alspach can be reached at email@example.com.