Metro-East News

Jefferson County jury awards $3.7 million in medical-malpractice case

It may be the largest medical malpractice award ever given by a Jefferson County jury at $3.7 million.

Belleville lawyers Lloyd Cueto and Michael Gras received the verdict and the award last week after a five-day trial.

“We had a very good jury. I’ve never had a jury pay such close attention. They took notes. They really gave us their consideration,” Cueto said.

Cueto represented Marie Clayton in a wrongful-death and medical malpractice lawsuit involving her husband, retired highway worker Robert Clayton, who died Dec. 16, 2009, against Dr. Manoj Desai, a urologist.

Desai’s attorney, Tim Richards, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Robert Clayton underwent a laser treatment for an enlarged prostrate performed by Desai. About a month later, Robert Clayton found blood in his urine and was instructed by Desai to go to the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon. Clayton was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 14, 2009.

Two days later, Robert Clayton was being moved from his bed to a stretcher to go into surgery when he suffered a massive pulmonary embolism and died, Cueto said.

A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the lung’s main artery by a blood clot that has typically formed in a leg then breaks off and travels to the lung. One of the risk factors is being sedentary.

Drugs can be used to treat blood clots, but Cueto said in Clayton’s case, giving anticoagulant drugs probably wasn’t appropriate because he faced surgery. The blood clot could have been prevented by making Clayton get up and walk down the hall or using anti-thrombosis stockings, support hose.

Marie Clayton maintained Desai failed to consider the hospital’s recommendation that Robert Clayton was at high risk for deep-vein thrombosis, a blood clot, and didn’t prescribe preventative actions be taken.

“It’s pretty simple, but even Michael Jordan missed a layup once in a while,” Cueto said.

Robert Clayton retired the month before his death, Cueto said. The couple had just purchased a new home to accommodate their grandchildren. Marie Clayton, a retired nurse, suffered health problems and truly relied on her husband to help her. The couple had been married 39 years.

“This was never about the money. Nobody cared for her husband in his time of need,” Cueto said. “Nobody came to say they were sorry. Nobody said they did anything wrong.”

Desai has retired, Cueto said.