Jury Awards $6.46M in Wrongful Death Case Against Cardiologist

Megan Brooks

October 29, 2021

A jury in Volusia County, Florida, awarded $6.46 million to the family of a woman in her 30s with heart failure who died, after concluding that her cardiologist and his practice were negligent in her death, Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm (HPS), the law firm representing the family in the medical malpractice lawsuit announced.

It's the highest reported wrongful death verdict in Volusia County history, HPS said in a news release. The trial lasted 2 weeks. The lawsuit was filed against both Roy Venzon, MD, and Daytona Heart Group.

In late February 2016, the patient, Laura Staib, 39, was first seen by Venzon, a cardiologist at Florida Hospital DeLand (now AdventHealth DeLand) and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and sepsis.

In early March of 2016, Staib was transferred to a long-term care facility and died 4 days later.

HPS law partners Richard B. Schwamm and Trisha Widowfield successfully argued that Staib's cardiologist should have done more to determine the cause of her heart failure and that Staib should not have been transferred to a lower level of care because her heart failure was worsening.

"On behalf of Mrs Staib's family, HPS sought recovery of past and future loss of support and services, along with damages for past and future loss of companionship, parental companionship, parental instruction and guidance, protection, mental anguish, and pain and suffering," HPS said in the news release.

Staib left behind a husband and two children, ages 6 and 10.

"This is a tragic case involving a young family who suffered an unbearable and preventable loss," said Schwamm. "We are so pleased we were able to help Laura's family obtain justice, and to help ease the burden and anguish of losing their wife and mother way too soon."

Schwamm told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that Staib appeared to be suffering from viral myocarditis, which was never diagnosed. 

According to the newspaper, Thomas E. Dukes III, an attorney representing Venzon and Daytona Heart Group, said his clients will appeal the verdict.

"Dr Venzon did not cause that woman's death. He didn't contribute to it. There was nothing he could have done to prevent it. She died 5 days after he last saw her in a different facility where he doesn't practice after 10 doctor visits by other doctors," Dukes told the Journal.

Dukes also dismissed claims made by Staib's lawyers that the patient died of viral myocarditis.

"She never had a proven viral myocarditis. She died of ARDS, acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by an overwhelming pneumonia that got worse after she was transferred to a facility where Dr Venzon doesn't practice," Dukes told Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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