New York Jury Awards $13 Million Following Wrongful Death Caused by Polyp Surgery

What damages are awarded in a wrongful death case in NY?

Recently, a New York jury awarded the family members of Cheryl Raefski, who died following surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, with $13 million. The wrongful death suit stems from a tragic botched surgery that occurred in 2011.  While the large jury award brings closure and financial assistance to the family of the loved one taken too soon, it cannot bring back a beloved wife and mother. Our NYC medical malpractice lawyers discuss the horrific facts of the case and the types of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case in the state below.

Polyp Surgery Gone Wrong

In November of 2011, Cheryl Raefski, 43 years old, underwent surgery to remove a polyp from her colon.  The surgeon removed the polyp, but without realizing it also burned a part of her small bowel. For four days, Raefski endured extreme pain. Finally, the surgeon ordered a CAT scan and found a massive infection.  Raefski passed away due to septic shock before a second surgery could be attempted.

Raefski’s husband, a police officer, sued the doctor and eventually the case went to trial.  The jury awarded the family with $13 million, distributing some of the funds to the couple’s three children and the remainder to the father.  This large award speaks to the degree to which the jury believed the physician acted negligently, and the tremendous damages suffered by the family.

Wrongful Death Damages in New York

Wrongful death claims can arise out of the death of a loved one caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant.  In New York, wrongful death claims must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate, who may also be a family member.  Damages in a wrongful death case will depend on the facts of the case, but could potentially include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses;
  • Loss of the deceased person’s wages and benefits;
  • Medical expenses prior to the death;
  • Loss of parental care and guidance to the surviving children;
  • Loss of inheritance;
  • Conscious pain and suffering prior to death;
  • Interest on the damages award.

Anyone who has lost a loved one due to medical malpractice should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.  Your attorney will review the facts of the case and determine whether you have a viable cause of action.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.