Copyright 1994 Jury Verdicts Northwest Inc.
Oregon Litigation and Arbitration Reports
ANTHONY JULES LUTZ, PR v. STATE OF OREGON (CSD) & LINCOLN COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH
Case No. 91-2200
Jury Trial Date: May 4, 1993
Date of Publication: June, 1994
TOPIC: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – STATE NEGLIGENCE. DEATH.
RESULT: PLAINTIFF VERDICT for $ 150,000 (Jury awarded $ 75,000 from each Def.; contributory negligence of 40% for Def. Lincoln County. Def. CSD appealed.)
INJURY: Soft tissue neck and back injuries. Plff first sought chiropractic treatment 2 months after accident; treated 4 months. Def. contended treatment not related to accident.
SPECIALS: Med. $ 2,713-$ 2,768; Prop. Damage $ 104; Lost Wages – None.
TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Robert J. Huckleberry.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY(S): Michael H. Bloom; Carolyn M. Fox of Fox & Associates (both Portland).
DEFENDANT ATTORNEY(S): Robert E. Franz, Jr. for Def. Lincoln County (Springfield); Luther L. Jensen, Dept. of Justice, for Def. CSD (Salem).
SUMMARY: 6/4/90 – Plff father; decedents, 22-month-old male, adult female. Infant was taken away from his diagnosed schizophrenic mother after she inappropriately gave infant her medication. The infant was taken into custody of Def. Children’s Services Division (CSD) and mother was treated by Def. Lincoln County for mental illness. After ap-proximately six weeks, the infant was returned to care of mother and approximately three months later, the mother shot and killed the infant, then committed suicide. A wrongful death action for medical malpractice was brought against Def. Lincoln County through its agent psychiatrist Jack Kaczmarek for negligent treatment of infant’s mother. A separate wrongful death action was brought against CSD for negligence in insuring the infant’s safety. The action was consolidated for trial. Def. Lincoln County contended there was no causal link between psychiatrist’s treatment of the mother and the subsequent shooting of infant. Def. Lincoln County also contended the psychiatrist’s conduct was not below the applicable standard of care. Def. CSD contended infant was 22 months old at death, and beneficiary father (Plff) had not seen nor contacted the child nor mother for eight months prior to death; thus, the father did not care for infant and suffered no damage by infant’s death. Action subject to $ 100,000 tort claim limit. Plff’s claim for pecu-niary loss struck by court at end of trial.
PLAINTIFF MEDICAL EXPERT(S): Seth Cohen MD (Psychiatrist) Seattle WA.
DEFENDANT MEDICAL EXPERT(S): Michael Resnick MD (Psychiatrist) Salem.
OFFER: None. Def. asked jury for defense verdict. No settlement conference.
DEMAND: $ 40,000. Plff asked jury for $ 500,000; however, subject to $ 100,000 tort claim limit.
TRIAL-TIME: 6-day trial