Philadelphia Jury Renders $6.4 Million Verdict


Derrick Harlem’s long nightmare began on May 31, 2009 when he was admitted to Temple University Hospital’s emergency room complaining of chest and shoulder pain after playing a game of basketball earlier in the day.

Although he had a history of atrial fibrillation, or arrhythmic heart beat, the resident physician and attending physician diagnosed Harlem with pneumonia and syncope but never ran a lipid panel.  He was discharged later that evening.

Three months later, on August 30, 2009, Harlem was found vomiting and spitting and coughing following a game of basketball.  Harlem had suffered a seizure and gone into shock.  At Temple again, he was placed on a mechanical ventilator and diagnosed with acute heart attack with cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injury.

Harlem was discharged from the hospital, to a long-term care facility on October 7, 2009.  Sadly, on November 12th of the same year, after spending a month on a ventilator and undergoing countless medical procedures, Derrick Harlem passed away.  Harlem was only 38 years old.  He left behind five children between the ages of one and eight.

Frederick Nice, the administrator of Harlem’s estate initiated a medical malpractice and wrongful death case on March1, 2009 claiming that the various defendant’s negligence led to Harlem’s decline and ultimately, death.  The suit also contained negligence and corporate negligence actions.

Following a weeklong trial, the jury returned a verdict of $6.4 million.  Harlem’s beneficiaries are his five surviving children who are entitled to wrongful death and survival damages.   $5,657,039 was for total Survival Act and wrongful death damages and $750,000 for pain and suffering.

Causal negligence was attributed to Temple University Hospital, and the two physicians who discharged Harlem initially.  The attending physician was found 88 percent negligent, the resident physician was found ten percent negligent and the hospital was two percent negligent.