Jury selection starts tomorrow in the Salt Lake medical malpractice wrongful-death case of Terry Lee Heirs v. Intermountain Health Services, Inc., dba Utah Valley Hospital, #190902131 (Third Judicial District for Salt Lake County, Hon. Robert Faust). Opening statements and evidence will begin on Monday, February 28th.

Terry Lee, age 79, died of sepsis on January 21, 2018. His widow died while this action is pending, so the remaining heir for trial is his adult son. The Amended Complaint alleges that Utah Valley Hospital negligently allowed a pressure ulcer (bed sore) to develop on Mr. Lee’s buttock after a hip surgery. This, plaintiff alleges, eventually lead to a deep-tissue injury, more bed sores, septicemia, and Mr. Lee’s death seven weeks later. Another party, Orem Rehabilitation, settled out before trial leaving only Intermountain/UVH as a defendant for trial. 

The basic claim is that IHC nurses failed to adequately turn Mr. Lee. The hospital denies these claims, asserts that proper measures were taken to avoid bed sores, and that this was an unfortunate but unavoidable event in a high-risk patient. It also contends that if there is any fault, some or all of it should be apportioned to Orem Rehab– where Mr. Lee spent six weeks before he eventually died.

There is a wrongful death claim for the remaining heir and a survival claim for the pain and suffering endured by Mr. Lee before his death. Only general damages are claimed- no medical bills, loss of inheritance, or any other economic items.

One interesting issue in pretrial motions practice was the defendant’s lawyers’ intent to introduce evidence of the decedent’s medical bills in face of the plaintiff’s desire to keep it out. The plaintiff won. Here are plaintiff’s original motion, defendant’s opposition, plaintiff’s reply, and Judge Faust’s Memorandum Decision and Order. The motion papers on a different case with the same plaintiff’s counsel and issue can be found here.)