From time to time I like to throw out acerbic and scornful judgments regarding what we are pleased to refer to as the “justice” system when it comes to medical malpractice…and voila, a gem from this past week. Seems one William Martinez was leading a particularly active social life, and and was subsequently summoned to the Great Hereafter, courtesy of a heart attack, occasioned by having a threesome. Apparently the loss of a 31 year old father of two provided sufficient pull on the heart strings of the jury to find the deceased only – ONLY! – 40% liable for engaging in group sex after he had visited a cardiologist for chest pain. Conveniently, for the dearly bereaved, the cardiologist’s malpractice firm is still on the hook for the majority of damages sought, a tidy $3 million which should somewhat help to ameliorate the family’s loss.
Was Martinez a smoker? Had he ever used cocaine? Did he have any significant family history of coronary disease? What was his exercise tolerance? I’m betting that the cardiologist asked these questions. Did the doctor ask whether the 31 year old man-about-town planned to really rev the ol’ engine over the weekend, and would this fall in the defense’s contention that the deceased was warned about, um, overdoing it? I don’t know.
I do know that one of the truly lousy aspects of this line of work is always being on the hook for someone else’s behavior. Don’t cry to me about the cost of medicine when patients and their families continue to receive quite tangible expressions of sympathy from those who don’t have to pay it, taken from those who did nothing wrong.