Zion v. New York Hospital: 1994-95
Both Demerol And Doctors Blamed
The jury deliberated for four days. Finally it found that Dr. Stone and Dr. Weinstein ordering the administration of Demerol had been a proximate cause of Libby's death. The jury further found that the intern and two residents had been negligent in administering it. Blame was also put on Dr. Weinstein for not personally checking on the patient when called by a nurse at 4:30 A.M., and for not consulting more experienced doctors at that time. The jury found the hospital negligent regarding the workload assigned to Dr. Weinstein. It found that Libby had ingested cocaine at some time on March 4, 1984, and had been negligent in giving her medical history. Because of this, the jury unanimously decided she had been 50 percent responsible for her death, and the hospital also 50 percent responsible.
The jury also said the hospital's system of training and supervising young doctors did not depart from accepted medical practice. It awarded no punitive damages, but ordered the doctors and hospital to pay $750,000 to the Zion family for pain and suffering—plus the $1 for wrongful death. On May 1, however, Judge Wilk ruled that the jury had improperly heard evidence of the cocaine use and threw out the blame allocated to Libby Zion. However, he lowered the total award amount to $375,000.
—Bernard Ryan, Jr.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Asch, D.A., and R.M. Parker. "The Libby Zion Case: One Step Forward or Two Steps Backwxard?" New England Journal of Medicine, (March 24, 1988).
Duncan, David Ewing. Residents: The Perils and Promise of Educating Young Doctors. New York: Scribner, 1996.
Gilbert, Sandra M. Wrongful Death: A Medical Tragedy. New York: Norton, 1997.
Harr, Jonathan and Marty Asher, eds. A Civil Action. New York: Random House, 1996.
Hinckle, Warren and John J. Simon. Do No Harm: The Libby Zion Case: How Doctors Killed Her and Then Blamed the Victim. New York: Argonaut Press, 1996.
Macklin, Ruth. Enemies of Patients: How Doctors Are Losing Their Power and Patients Are Losing Their Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Nuland, Sherwin B., M.D. How We Die. New York: Knopf, 1994.
Robins, Natalie. The Girl Who Died Twice: Every Patient's Nightmare—The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals. New York: Delacorte, 1999.
Werth, Barry. Damages: One Family's Legal Struggles in the World of Medicine. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
Zion, Sidney. Trust Your Mother But Cut the Cards (fiction). New York: Barricade Books, 1993.
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