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City Hospital Found Negligent Artist's estate awarded $500G

 

Newsday - Long Island, NY

Author: By Curtis L. Taylor. STAFF WRITER

Date: Sep 26, 1992, Start Page: 74, Edition: Combined editions, Section: NEWS

(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1992)

A Queens jury awarded $500,000 to the estate of a nationally renowned courtroom sketch artist whose throat and vocal cords were injured while he was treated for a heart condition at a city hospital 12 years ago.

Late Thursday, the jury found that Elmhurst Hospital Center was negligent for failing to evaluate John Hart after he had experienced several days of complications from a tube down his windpipe during his stay there in 1980, said the estate's lawyer, Eric Turkewitz. The complications forced Hart to have several operations over the last four years of his life.

The estate of Hart, whoses sketches from the Watergate courtroom appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the world, was awarded the money for his "four years of pain and suffering," Turkewitz said. The jury also awarded $75,000 to Hart's widow, Dorothy Ann, who testified at the trial.

Hart died from his heart condition in 1984 at the age of 63, Turkewitz said.

A spokesperson for the hospital couldn't be reached for comment.

In February, 1980, Hart had flown to LaGuardia Airport, , Turkewitz said. Hart told the cabbie "to take me to the nearest hospital emergency room."

Hart collapsed and stopped breathing in the emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital, but was revived, Turkewitz said. A hospital worker inserted a tube in his throat.

Over the next five days, the tube was put in and taken out of his throat, Turkewitz said. As a result of the tube, he experienced problems with his trachea and larynx, but the hospital never had Hart examined by a throat specialist, Turkewitz said.

"They were treating his heart but not the problems that came up as a result of the trauma caused by the tube," Turkewitz said. "Because they never investigated the continuing trauma which took a minor complication and turned it in to a major complication."

As a result of the damaged caused by the tube, Hart required numerous reconstructive operations on his throat during a four-year period, Turkewitz said.

"During that time he had to breath and talk through a hole in the throat," Turkewitz said.

Judge Cosmo DiTucci presided over the three-week State Supreme Court trial in Jamaica. During the trial, Hart's drawings, including a portrait of himself, were shown to the jury.

Hart's work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress and U.S. Marine Corps Museum in Washington D.C.

Abstract (Document Summary)

Late Thursday, the jury found that Elmhurst Hospital Center was negligent for failing to evaluate John Hart after he had experienced several days of complications from a tube down his windpipe during his stay there in 1980, said the estate's lawyer, Eric Turkewitz. The complications forced Hart to have several operations over the last four years of his life.

Over the next five days, the tube was put in and taken out of his throat, Turkewitz said. As a result of the tube, he experienced problems with his trachea and larynx, but the hospital never had Hart examined by a throat specialist, Turkewitz said.

Updated: 3/2/2016
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