There’s a Salt Lake City wrongful death / medical malpractice case against a transitional care center going to trial next Monday, December 11th, in Judge Laura Scott’s Salt Lake Courtroom- Janzen v. Aspen Ridge Transitional Health Care, #140906083, Third District Court for Salt Lake County.

​The case involves the death of Genevieve Janzen from the complications of a pulmonary embolism after an auto accident.

Jessica Andrew and Jeff Gross have the plaintiffs’ case; Greg RobertsKristy Larsen, and Blake Biddulph at Ray Quinney have the defense. The (bare-bones) complaint is here. Here’s a summary of the case provided to me by plaintiffs’ counsel:

The claim is wrongful death of a 74 y.o. woman arising out of Aspen Ridge Transitional Rehab’s repeated failures to take action on Mrs. Janzen’s increasingly concerning signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolus over the course of 12 hours. She had been in a car accident and sustained leg fractures on a Saturday, was in the hospital for a couple of days, and then was discharged to Aspen Ridge, a skilled nursing facility, on the following Tuesday. Of course, traumatic leg fractures are a key risk factor for clotting, which the nursing staff knew. She was stable for three days, then Friday morning she started to show signs and symptoms that the nursing staff clearly knew of and documented, but did nothing about, including drastic changes in BP and O2 sats/needs, confusion, word salad, syncopal episodes, weakness and dizziness.

These repeatedly occurred and were observed and often documented over the course of about 12 hours, but the staff didn’t call the doctor or transport her. The nurse at last decided she was in emergent shape at around 7:50 pm, but then inexplicably didn’t call for an ambulance for some 25 minutes. Mrs. Janzen coded sometime during that 25 minutes and was found unresponsive, no heart beat, no breathing. CNAs started CPR, but the nurse then told CNAs to stop CPR because Mrs. Janzen’s code status was DNR. Two to three minutes later, the nurse ran back and told the CNAs to re-start CPR because the patient was actually full code.  She died before reaching the hospital.

The main defenses are (1) we did everything right because none of her signs and symptoms were sufficiently concerning to do anything, and (2) Mrs. Janzen would have died anyway; that is, her PE wasn’t survivable.  

It’s interesting that Judge Scott uses a Standing Order addressing common areas of dispute in opening statements and closing arguments. (Here’s a paper on improper argument from 2015)

That Standing Order also addresses other courtroom practices and Judge Scott’s expectations of counsel. (I always found these “standing orders” to be useful, as practices vary from courtroom to courtroom.– one judge would get irritated at requests to approach a witness and the next would be highly offended if you did not do so. Best to know the ground rules in advance.)

The defense, as part of its motions in limine, asked to prohibit any “Reptile” arguments by plaintiffs.

I will blog further on this trial next week.

Salt Lake Wrongful Death Attorney