A Montgomery County jury awarded approximately $645,000 on Friday to the family of Montgomery Village man who died from heart complications following elective back surgery.
Robert Suryadeth was 64 when he went to his doctor to be cleared for surgery in October 2013, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Jonathan E. Goldberg. Suryadeth’s regular doctor was out of the country, and a covering doctor, Aruna Kumari Paspula, cleared him for surgery despite an electrocardiogram test coming back abnormal.
When combined with Suryadeth’s risk factors and the fact the he was under the care of a cardiologist, Paspula should have asked a cardiologist to approve him for surgery, according Goldberg, of Schochor, Federico & Staton P.A. in Baltimore.
“It’s obviously a very sad case and something that could have been avoided,” he said.
Suryadeth underwent surgery Oct. 9, 2013 and was discharged that day, according to the complaint. He was found unresponsive at home that night and paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.
The jury deliberated for more than six hours before finding Paspula, according to Goldberg. Suryadeth’s regular doctor, who was out of the country, was also found negligent as Paspula’s employer.
Suryadeth’s wife was awarded economic and noneconomic damages and his three adult children also received noneconomic damages. The state’s statutory cap on nonecomomic damages does not apply, Goldberg said.
“They were a family that had come from Laos back in 1976 to escape the communist regime there,” Golberg said. “He was a hardworking guy who hurt his back on the job and the surgery was to hopefully resolve his pain but the surgery was elective.”
Experts on internal medicine and cardiology testified for each side during the four-day trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The plaintiffs’ experts testified Suryadeth should have been referred to a cardiologist who would have performed a stress test and found signs of the blocked vessels eventually found in his autopsy, Goldberg said.
The defense argued Suryadeth did not have any symptoms of coronary artery disease — he saw a cardiologist for vascular disease — and a cardiology workup was unnecessary, Goldberg said.
The defendants were represented by Robert C. Maynard of Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades Chtd. in Rockville. Maynard did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
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Jany Suryadeth et al. v. Enoh Edet Akpandak M.D. et al.
Court: Montgomery County Circuit
Case No.: 423906-V
Judge: Robert Rubin
Proceeding: Jury trial
Outcome: Verdict for plaintiffs ($210,000 in economic damages and $250,000 in noneconomic damages to Jany Suryadeth; $175,000 in noneconomic damages to three adult children; $9,328.52 in funeral expenses)
Incident: Oct. 4, 2013
Suit filed: Aug. 11, 2016
Verdict: Jan. 12, 2018
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Jonathan E. Goldberg and James D. Cardea of Schochor, Federico & Staton P.A. in Baltimore
Defendant’s Attorney: Robert C. Maynard of Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades Chtd. in Rockville