June 4, 2012 – The five minor children of a man who died due to medical malpractice were awarded $6.4 million from a Philadelphia jury.
The verdict in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson's courtroom was reached after a seven-day trial and six hours of deliberations.
The plaintiff's attorney, Matt Casey, indicated the award was one of the largest of its kind in recent years in the state.
Derek Harlem, 37, was taken by ambulance to Temple's emergency room after experiencing chest pains while playing basketball on May 31, 2009. Despite clear symptoms of heart problems, he was given the diagnosis of pneumonia and discharged without full testing.
Just three months later, on Aug. 20, 2009, Harlem had a heart attack. He was resuscitated and taken to Temple, where a total blockage of the left anterior descending coronary artery was found.
He was placed on a ventilator on Nov. 12, 2009, and later died. The plaintiffs alleged that a basic cardio workup would have shown a lesion on one of Harlem's arteries and that treatment could have prevented the fatal heart attack.
The plaintiffs indicated that it was the failure to perform the standard of care necessary for Harlem in the original emergency room visit that led to this heart attack. The defense argued that his symptoms were in line with the pneumonia diagnosis.